No comment from govt on Dalai Lama visa saga

China has meanwhile thanked South Africa for taking the “correct position” when refusing the visa.

Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - The Nelson Mandela Foundation says its hopes that the situation concerning the Dalai Lama's trip to South Africa can be remedied.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India and is at loggerheads with China over Tibet, had been hoping to join a Nobel peace conference in Cape Town next month but withdrew his visa application after being told it would be unsuccessful.

But government says the visit was simply cancelled and it considers the matter closed.

China has meanwhile thanked South Africa for taking the "correct position" when refusing the visa.

The ministry praised South Africa for its correct position and indicated it highly appreciates the respect given on the country's "sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Government has refused to be drawn on China's response to the visa debacle.

The foundation is continuing its calls to government, urging authorities to allow the Dalai Lama entry into the country.

Spokesperson Danielle Melville says several people were looking forward to the spiritual leader's presence at the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town next month.

"We do hope of course that he is able to ultimately join us in Cape Town so we can realise the full peace summit in its truest form."

Meanwhile, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation maintains normal procedure was followed and the application was withdrawn.

Previous delays in dealing with the Dalai Lama's visa requests by the African National Congress government have angered South Africans who see it as a betrayal of the country's commitment to human rights since apartheid ended 20 years ago.

China brands the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet, a separatist. The Dalai Lama says he is seeking more autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

A South African court ruled two years ago that officials had "unreasonably delayed" a decision on granting the Dalai Lama a visa in 2011, largely out of fear of angering China, now a major African and South African trading partner and investor.

Because of the delay, the Dalai Lama was unable to attend the 80th birthday of his friend and fellow Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town in October 2011. The previous visa denial, in 2009, was also for a peace conference.