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Dalai Lama cancels S. Africa trip

DHARMSALA, India, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The Dalai Lama Tuesday canceled his planned trip to South Africa after failing to get a visa from the Pretoria government on time, his office in India said.

The Tibetan spiritual leader, who lives in exile in Dharmsala, India, had been invited to come to South Africa to take part in the 80th birthday celebrations of fellow Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the BBC reported.

There were protests outside the South African Parliament by the Dalai Lama's supporters, but the government said it was not pressured by China on the visa issue. It is the second time in two years that the Dalai Lama's visit to South Africa has been canceled, the British broadcaster said.

"His Holiness was to depart for South Africa on (Thursday) but visas have not been granted yet," his office said. "We are, therefore, now convinced that for whatever reason or reasons, the South African government finds it inconvenient to issue (a) visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

A spokesman for the South African foreign office said the visa application was still under consideration and declined comment on the trip cancellation, CNN reported.

China has accused the Dalai Lama of wanting to lead Tibet to independence, although the Buddhist monk has always said he only wants greater autonomy for Tibet.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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