Taiwan president rules out Dalai Lama visit
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou Wednesday ruled out an intended visit next year by Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, reported dpa.
"The Dalai Lama has visited Taiwan twice, and we generally welcome all religious leaders to visit, but at the current moment, the timing isn't appropriate for that," he told foreign media in Taipei.
He declined to say when the visit might be welcomed, but political observers said Ma was apparently reluctant to displease China by hosting the Dalai Lama as cross-strait relations have improved.
In what would be his first visit in seven years and an apparent reversal of a policy of avoiding the island for fear of angering China, the Dalai Lama told Elta TV in the northern indian city of Dharamsala that he intended to visit the island in 2009.
"I haven't visited Taiwan for several years, but I have never forgotten Taiwan," he said.
"What is most precious about Taiwan is Taiwan's democracy. China kept talking about liberating Taiwan, but in fact, it is not unlikely that Taiwan might liberate China's dictatorship with Taiwan's democracy," he told the television station.
The Dalai Lama refused to predict the outcome of ongoing Taipei- Beijing talks, but said it is very hard to achieve concrete results.
"Look at Tibet. China keeps saying that the door to dialogue is always open, but when we want to discuss details, they become very hard," he said.
Taipei resumed talks with Beijing in June after Ma of the China-friendly Nationalist Party took office in May and adopted a policy to engage the mainland.
The Dalai Lama visited Taiwan in 1997 and 2001 to give Buddhist lectures and meet with former president Lee Teng-hui. An office of the Tibet Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama opened in Taipei in 1998.
China claims both Tibet and Taiwan as integral parts of its territory.