SOUTH AFRICA - TIBET

Dalai Lama denied visa for South Africa

South Africa has refused to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, who was invited to the country to meet with other Nobel laureats. A presidential spokesman said it would distract from the 2010 World Cup, which the nation is hosting.

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AFP - South Africa has denied the Dalai Lama a visa to meet here with other Nobel laureates because his visit would distract attention from the country's hosting of the 2010 World Cup, a spokesman said Monday.

"There is no visa," said Thabo Masebe, spokesman for President Kgalema Motlanthe.

"We in the South African government have not invited the Dalai Lama to visit South Africa, because it would not be in the interests of South Africa," he told AFP.

"The attention of the world is on South Africa because of it being the host country for the 2010 World Cup, and we wouldn't want anything to distract from that," he added.

Organisers of a Peace Conference, backed by the Nobel committee, had invited the Dalai Lama to join other peace prize winners to discuss how soccer can fight racism and xenophobia.

Masebe said the organisers had not consulted with the government before inviting the Dalai Lama.

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