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'Dalai Lama can still come to SA'

An expert says the Dalai Lama can visit SA, provided he does not request meetings with political leaders.

The Dalai Lama. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The South African government can allow the Dalai Lama to visit the country as long as he does not request meetings with political leaders, an analyst said on Monday.

The Tibetan leader may be invited to South Africa again, following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) that the South African government unnecessarily delayed his visa application last year.

The Dalai Lama was due to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's birthday celebrations last year, but had to postpone his trip after he failed to get a visa on time from the Home Affairs Department.

The government was roundly criticised for its reluctance to allow the Dalai Lama to visit South Africa.

After the court ruling last week, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said he will invite the Tibetan leader to South Africa again.

China expert Martyn Davies said the issue was "handled badly".

"The visit became extremely politicised. I think both sides could have handled it better."

China sees Tibet as part of its territory and takes issue with countries that host the Dalai Lama.