Days after evoking controversy by denying visa to Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, South Africa on Saturday requested the Nobel peace laureate to defer his visit to the country, for this year alone.
“We met officials of South African High Commission here in Indian Capital today and they have urged His Holiness to defer his visit to the country for this year only,” said Temp Tsering, the Dalai Lama's representative in New Delhi, adding that South African High Commissioner to India FK Morule was present at the meeting.
The Dalai Lama had applied for a visa to South Africa on August 27, where he was invited to attend 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, next month.
The Dalai Lama, however, called off the trip after South African government denied visa to him. This was for the third time that South Africa barred spiritual leader's entry in the country.
“The (South African) officials from the department of international relations conveyed to me over phone that they will not be able to grant visa for the reason that it would disturb relations between China and South Africa," said reports quoting the Dalai Lama's representative in South Africa, Nangsa Choedon, on Thursday.
However, the south African High Commissioner Mourel maintained that he has “heard” that Dalai Lama has cancelled his visit and had a called a meeting with his representative that was held on Friday.
“No decision has been taken on the Dalai Lama's visa application yet. We hold Nobel peace prize winner in high esteem and respect him,” reports quoted Mourel as saying.
“Countries have got national interest... that does not take away the respect they have for eminent people like the Dalai Lama. But South Africa cannot be adventurous, these are the realities of life,” he said.
“The spiritual leader has been coming to South Africa, he will continue to do so. We have always welcomed him,” he added.
The Dalai Lama's office, however, once again refrained from commenting on the fresh development. “We have nothing to say about it,” said the spiritual leader's private secretary Tenzin Taklah.
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), in a post on its official website on Friday, said that Patricia de Lille, the executive mayor of Cape Town, was dismayed over the South African government's position on Dalai Lama.
“The actions of the (South African) department of international relations are absolutely appalling, and an affront to a key theme of the summit: celebrating 20 years of South Africa's constitutional democracy and the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela,” de Lille was quoted as saying.
“It is indeed a dark day for South Africa when the ideals for which Nelson Mandela and so many others fought are sold to the highest bidder,” she added.
Earlier in 2009 and 2011, the Dalai Lama called off his visits to South Africa after Cape Town denied him visa.
The Dalai Lama has visited South Africa in 1996, 1999 and 2004.