The Desmond Tutu Peace Centre has expressed confidence that a visa will be granted to the Dalai Lama to visit South Africa next month.
“The inaugural Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture will be delivered by His Holiness (Dalai Lama)... on October 8, the day after Archbishop Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday,” chairman of the peace centre Dumisa Ntsebeza said in a statement,
“Although uncertainty over the visa has proved challenging... the peace centre is confident the visa will be granted.”
International relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said an application for the Dalai Lama's visa had been completed and it was under consideration.
He said he was not sure how long this would take.
In 2009, South Africa declined the Dalai Lama's request to attend a peace conference connected to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, apparently fearing it would upset its major trading partner China.
The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959. He fled there after a failed uprising against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Both Tutu and the Dalai Lama are Nobel peace prize laureates.
In June, Tutu had invited the Dalai Lama to attend his 80th birthday celebrations in Cape Town. The Dalai Lama accepted the invitation.
Ntsebeza said neither Tutu nor the peace centre were insensitive to the problems the government may face from China if it granted the Dalai Lama a visa.
“Government has been kept informed about arrangements for the visit since His Holiness accepted the Archbishop's personal invitation in June,” he said. – Sapa