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Dalai Lama not allowed to visit Korea this year

Posted October. 29, 2000 19:41,   


The government has decided not to allow a visit to Korea by the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, this year, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Sunday.

The Preparation Committee for the Dalai Lama¡¯s Visit to Korea immediately held a rally to criticize the government Sunday.

The government notified the preparation committee that the Dalai Lama¡¯s visit to Korea, scheduled from Nov. 16-22, would be difficult due to its diplomatic timetable and for other reasons.

The committee, which is made up of 95 religious, civic and students¡¯ organizations, recently asked the government to clarify whether it would permit the visit of the Tibetan religious leader, who is also the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The government will send an official document to the committee Monday containing its final decision on the controversial issue, according to the official.

However, the official said that the decision does not mean that the government will bar the Dalai Lama from visiting indefinitely. The government is conveying the demand of the nation¡¯s religious groups to the Chinese side and is considering allowing his visit at an appropriate time, he added.

The preparation committee held a rally to ``protect the cultural sovereignty of the nation¡± at Chogye-sa Temple in Kyonji-dong, Chongno-ku, downtown Seoul, with some 2,000 Buddhists and citizens attending to protest the government¡¯s policy.

Participants called for Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Lee Joung-Binn to resign and the government to allow the Dalai Lama¡¯s visit to Korea.

The committee said in a statement that it was notified of the government¡¯s decision not to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama Saturday.

¡°Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Lee should resign immediately for breaching a promise to the people on the excuse of national interest,¡¯¡¯ the committee said in the statement.

In an open letter to be sent to President Kim Dae-Jung, the committee asked him to explain to the people his sudden change of heart since he said he would positively consider the Dalai Lama¡¯s visit shortly after he was named this year¡¯s Nobel Peace Prize winner.

After the rally, the participants staged a bicycle parade in the Chongno and Insa-dong area to publicize their activities and also held an event to condemn what they called ¡°humiliating diplomacy¡± in the Kwanghwamun area in the heart of Seoul.

Boo Hyung-Kwon bookum90@donga.com