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Government approves visit by Dalai Lama

August 28, 2009

Radio Taiwan International (RTI)
August 27, 2009

Taiwan's government has approved a visit by the
Dalai Lama next week to console survivors of Typhoon Morakot.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was invited by the
chiefs of municipalities that were affected by
the typhoon. The chiefs are all from the
opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

The Dalai Lama wanted to visit Taiwan last year,
but President Ma Ying-jeou said then that the
timing was not right. His administration has been
working to improve relations with China, which
has accused the Dalai Lama of trying to split
Tibet from China and reacts angrily to any country hosting him.

On Thursday Presidential Office spokesman Wang
Yu-chi said the government had approved the Dalai
Lama's visit "for humanitarian and religious
considerations". He also said Taiwan's ties with
China have improved in the past year and that the
Dalai Lama's visit should not harm cross-strait
relations. Wang would not say, however, whether
President Ma would meet with the Dalai Lama.

Although the Presidential Office has tried to
minimize the political significance of the trip,
some members of the ruling Kuomintang say they
are concerned that the trip could damage cross-strait ties.

Legislature President Wang Jin-pyng told
reporters that it is impossible to avoid the trip's political overtones.

"Humanitarian concerns should be our top
priority. We do not wish to see [the Dalai Lama]
engage in political activities here. I believe
the Dalai Lama will comply with our requests in this respect," said Wang.

Meanwhile, Kuomintang lawmaker Wu Yu-sheng said
he hopes the opposition Democratic Progressive
Party (DPP) will not try to politicize the Dalai Lama's visit.

"After a disaster such as this in Taiwan, it's
nice to have the Dalai Lama come and pray for the
people. But I'd like to remind my DPP colleagues
not to manipulate his visit to promote the issues
of Tibetan independence, Taiwan independence, or
to antagonize Taiwan and China," said Wu.

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Taiwan between August 31 and September 4.
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