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Dalai Lama to Make Video Appearance at S. African Celebration


Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama smiles following an interview with AP outside his residence in the hill station town of Dharmsala, northern India (File)

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama smiles following an interview with AP outside his residence in the hill station town of Dharmsala, northern India (File)

The Dalai Lama will appear by videoconference at celebrations marking Archbishop Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday, after being denied a visa to enter South Africa.

The exiled Tibetan leader will join the festivities on Saturday, via videolink from Dharamsala, India.

A South African government official rejected a last minute request by Archbishop Tutu to grant a travel visa to the Dalai Lama, who was scheduled to visit the country for Tutu's birthday celebrations this week.

The Dalai Lama cancelled his trip on Tuesday, saying he had not received a visa in time.

The visa debacle has outraged many in South Africa, with hundreds of protesters holding a demonstration on Wednesday at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to protest the government's response to the issue.

Many believe that South Africa is under pressure from China, a key trading partner, to block the Dalai Lama's visit. China regularly discourages foreign leaders from hosting the exiled Tibetan leader, whom they regard as being a separatist.

Tutu's Peace Center says an empty chair will be placed on stage, showcasing the government's action to keep the Dalai Lama away.

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 1989, has made three previous visited South Africa on three previous occasion during Nelson Mandela's presidency with no visa issues.

He was denied a visa to enter South Africa two years ago following overtures from China.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile for more than 50 years after fleeing a failed revolt against Chinese rule in Tibet.

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