Dalai Lama cancels Botswana visit, says he’s ‘exhausted’

Dharamsala, Aug 12 (IANS) Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has cancelled his proposed visit to African nation Botswana next week, citing “exhaustion” as the reason.

The Dalai Lama, who is alleged by the Chinese to be a separatist, was invited to address a three-day human rights conference at Gaborone in Botswana on August 17 and was scheduled to meet Botswana’s President.

A statement on the website of the spiritual leader says he has written to the President of Botswana, expressing “profound regret at having to cancel his impending visit to Botswana due to exhaustion”.

“During the past few weeks, His Holiness has found that carrying out his activities has left him unusually tired,” said the statement, adding: “Since his physicians have also advised him to avoid undertaking long journeys for the next few weeks, His Holiness will return to Dharamsala to recuperate”.

According to reports, China, Africa’s largest trade partner, had stepped up its warning to Botswana over the planned visit by the elderly monk.

In his letter to President Ian Khama, the Nobel Peace Laureate expressed deep admiration, respect and gratitude to him and the government of Botswana for their unwavering principled stand to welcome him to their country, despite overwhelming pressure not to do so.

The Dalai Lama’s office here said he was invited to Gaborone from August 15-20 to participate in the Mind & Life Conference and other engagements.

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since he fled Tibet during a failed uprising in 1959. He favours “greater autonomy” for Tibetans rather than complete independence.

Chinese leaders have, however, called him a separatist who wants Tibet to secede from China.

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