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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Peace Conference in South Africa Is Canceled

March 26, 2009

The New York Times
March 24, 2009

JOHANNESBURG -- Organizers of a peace conference
that was to have been attended by five Nobel
Peace Prize winners in Johannesburg said Tuesday
that they had canceled the conference after the
South African government denied entry to the
Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader and one of the Nobel laureates.

Two of South Africa’s Nobel winners, Desmond
Tutu, the retired Anglican archbishop, and former
President F. W. de Klerk, condemned the
government for giving in to pressure from China
to block the Dalai Lama’s entry and said they
would refuse to participate in the conference
this Friday if he was not there. The executive
director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Geir
Lundestad, also said he would stay away.

The government said Monday that the Dalai Lama
would not be allowed to come to South Africa to
attend the conference, meant to promote the 2010
World Cup, because his presence would have
distracted attention from South Africa and drawn
it instead to the contentious debate over the status of Tibet.

Thabo Masebe, a government spokesman, said that
the Tibetan leader’s presence "would not be in South Africa’s best interests."

A statement by the organizers on Tuesday said the
participants had been told that "the only purpose
of their visit to South Africa would be for the
purposes of participation in the conference and
not any other public engagements, as these could
take away from the purpose for which the conference was intended."

Somini Sengupta contributed reporting from New
Delhi, Edward Wong from Beijing, and Walter Gibbs
from Oslo. Alan Cowell contributed from Paris.
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