Thu, Feb 26, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Dalai Lama repeats desire to travel to Taiwan in interview

AFP , TAIPEI

Exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama has reiterated his wish to visit Taiwan in an interview with a Taiwanese cable news channel broadcast yesterday.

“I am very eager since my first and second visit,” he said in an interview in India with FTV, referring to his first trip to Taiwan in March 1997 and again in 2001.

The Dalai Lama had voiced his desire to visit Taiwan in an interview last year with a local newspaper in Dharamshala, the town in northern India where his exiled government has been based since a failed uprising in 1959.

But President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said the timing was not right. Ma’s response drew an outcry in Taiwan.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has accused Ma of kowtowing to Beijing, while some members of his Chinese Nationalist Pary (KMT) have also urged him to reconsider the issue.

When asked about Ma’s remarks, the Dalai Lama replied: “I am eager but [the visa] is not finalized ... I do not want to create unnecessary inconvenience.”

He said he thought the Chinese government was “very sensitive” about any potential visit by him to Taiwan.

In the interview, the 73-year-old also shrugged off concerns about his health after he underwent surgery to remove gallstones last year, saying that his doctors told him he had the health of someone 10 years younger.

The Dalai Lama is reviled by the Chinese government, which has branded him a “monster” and has accused him of trying to split the nation.

In December last year, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus boycotted a motion proposed by the DPP caucus welcoming a visit by the Dalai Lama.

The motion failed to pass the legislative session after the KMT asked that it be referred to cross-party negotiation, meaning the proposal could be held up for at least one month.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

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