Peace conference in S. Africa called off | world | Hindustan Times
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Peace conference in S. Africa called off

A South African peace conference involving Nobel laureates was postponed on Tuesday over Pretoria’s refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, angering the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

world Updated: Mar 25, 2009 02:00 IST

A South African peace conference involving Nobel laureates was postponed on Tuesday over Pretoria’s refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, angering the grandson of Nelson Mandela.

Mandla Mandela, who helped plan the event, said the rejection of the Dalai Lama was “unfortunate” and tainted his illustrious grandfather’s efforts to bring democracy to South Africa.

“It’s a sad day for South Africa. It’s a sad day for Africa,” he said.

Nelson Mandela, along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president FW de Klerk, were to host the peace conference on Friday in Johannesburg.

The conference was to discuss how soccer can fight racism and xenophobia, as South Africa prepares to host the 2010 World Cup.

Officially South Africa says it does not want a visit by the Dalai Lama to draw attention away from preparations for the World Cup, insisting that his visit has merely been “postponed.”

Thabo Masebe, spokesman for President Kgalema Motlanthe, said he could not say when the Dalai Lama would be allowed to visit.

“We made the decision. We stand by the decision. Nothing is going to change,” he said.

Now that the conference has been scuppered, the event’s chairman Irvin Khoza said he did not know when it would be rescheduled.

Tutu and De Klerk had earlier indicated they would withdraw from the event over the controversy, while the Nobel peace committee said it would have to withdraw its support unless the Dalai Lama was allowed to attend.