Dalai Lama 'very sad' to cancel S.Africa visit

7th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Dalai Lama said Friday he was "very sad" that he had not received a South African visa in time to make his journey for Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday, in a video message posted online.

"There was no sort of sign, no answer about my visit, my visa," he said in the video on the website of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where he was due to speak next week.

"So therefore, then there is no other alternative except withdraw with my visit. So I feel very sad."

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader had been scheduled to give a speech Saturday in Cape Town as part of Tutu's birthday celebrations. He is now set to give the address in a live video link from his home-in-exile in India.

He was also supposed to give a speech next week in Johannesburg and to receive an award from the Gandhi Foundation.

The Dalai Lama said he had planned to speak about "the promotion of human value. Human value means warm-heartedness, or compassionate heart. We really need that."

"I am hoping in future there could be some occasion with meeting you personally," he said.

"Finally due to the government's adversity, inconvenience, my visit is now cancelled. This may cause some disappointment, and some sort of problems. I am sorry. I apologise. But thank you very much."

South Africa never announced whether the Dalai Lama would be granted a visa, with President Jacob Zuma on Monday saying he did not know if the trip would be allowed.

The government's dithering sparked a furious reaction from Tutu, who accused Zuma of kowtowing to China, which regards the Dalai Lama as a "splittist".

After branding Zuma's administration as worse than apartheid and threatening to pray for his downfall, Tutu and the government put their best faces forward during the birthday celebrations Friday.

Tutu called the visa drama a "hiccup" during a church service for his birthday Friday, while Zuma said of Tutu in a statement that "we respect him, love him and always welcome his counsel on issues."

© 2011 AFP

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