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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Dalai Lama speaks out

April 2, 2009

By Carien Du Plessis and Sapa-AFP
Cape Times (South Africa)
April 01 2009

The Dalai Lama says the recent decision by the
South African government to refuse him a visa to
attend a peace conference of Nobel laureates was
the result of Chinese diplomatic pressure, but
said the decision had backfired by generating a storm of publicity.

"Because of (the) Chinese protest, more
publicity. Ultimately, I have to thank the Chinese," he said.

He was speaking in New Delhi on the 50th
anniversary of his 1959 crossing of the Indian border as he fled Tibet.

Meanwhile, ANC president Jacob Zuma said on
Tuesday that the government preferred to be safe
rather than sorry in deciding against granting the Dalai Lama a visa.

He could not speak for the government, did not
rule out a future visit by the Dalai Lama, however.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting at the Auckland
Park Country Club on Tuesday, Zuma said South
Africa was not the only country to refuse the Dalai Lama entry in March.

He mentioned French President Nicholas Sarkozy's
meeting with the Dalai Lama in Poland in
December, which incurred China's wrath.

China withdrew from a summit with the European
Union planned for the same month in protest.
France subsequently had to apologise in order to
mend relations with China, Zuma said.

French officials are reportedly poised to visit
China later in April for this purpose.

"The government took a decision which I'm sure
they'll explain. And as I understood, they did
not say the Dalai Lama could not come to South Africa.

"I think they are saying March, the month March,
is a serious month between the Dalai Lama and
China in a very specific way," Zuma said.

The 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's escape
into exile in India falls during March.

"There are relations between countries that have
specific protocols and certain things to be
respected in one form or the other," Zuma said.

Zuma also defended former president Thabo Mbeki's
quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe, saying this policy
was unlikely to change under a new ANC administration.

He said Mbeki's stand on Zimbabwe was the
"collective approach" of the ANC and government.

Mbeki only happened to be the president who had implemented that policy.

Zuma said Mbeki had continued as mediator in
Zimbabwe after his sacking in 2008 because of his knowledge of the process.

He said there was much world condemnation about
what was happening in Zimbabwe, but South Africa
decided instead to engage with its neighbour.
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