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More controversy surrounding Dalai Lama visa

Calls are being made for the International Relations Ministry to explain the latest visa controversy.

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama gives a lecture on 23 August, 2014 in Hamburg. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town wants the International Relations Ministry to explain the latest visa controversy surrounding the Dalai Lama's visit.

The department has cancelled Tenzin Gyatso's visa application after it was confirmed he's called off his planned trip to the country.

He was to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in the Mother City next month.

The Cape Times on Thursday reported the Gyatso had cancelled his plans to attend the Summit.

The report claimed his visa application had been refused.

International relations denied this, saying his application was still pending.

The department's Nelson Kgwete on Thursday said at the time it was notified of the cancelled plans, it was still processing the spiritual leader's visa application.

"Now that we have received the written confirmation from the office of his holiness that he has cancelled his visit, we consider the matter to be closed because the visa application process will be discontinued."

The department later announced the application had been set aside, because the Dalai Lama had cancelled his visit.

Mayor Patricia de Lille had urged authorities to approve the visa application in an effort to spare the country international embarrassment.

Late on Thursday the office of the Mayor was still awaiting a formal response from International Affairs.

Speaking from China, the department's Clayson Monyela said the department cannot be held responsible for personal decisions taken by the spiritual leader.

Authorities say in the last two debacles, the spiritual leader cancelled his applications while they were still being processed.

Earlier in the day, the Gyatso's representative in South Africa Nangsa Choedon told news agency Reuters that they had received informal contact that a visa would not be granted for the third time in five years.

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

The visa denial is likely to fuel speculation about Beijing's sway over Pretoria.