Dalai Lama’s senior envoy arrives in S.Korea
SEOUL (AFP): A senior envoy of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has arrived in South Korea to attend a religious event, in a rare visit by a leading Tibetan official, organisers said Monday.
The Seoul government has several times refused to grant a visa for the Dalai Lama himself, apparently for fear of offending China.
Samdhong Rinpoche, a former prime minister of Tibet’s government-in-exile, will attend the World Fellowship of Buddhists conference in the southern city of Yeosu from Monday to Friday, said a spokeswoman for the organising committee.
Organisers initially sought to invite the Dalai Lama but later ditched the plan out of consideration for China which promised to send some 100 delegates, she said.
“Now 16 Chinese delegates are to take part in the event… we are very nervous about how they would react,” she said.
The foreign ministry declined immediate comment on the visit.
Rinpoche, the highest-ever Tibetan official to visit South Korea, will meet Buddhist delegates from other nations during what is planned as a low-profile trip, she told AFP.
“We nearly gave up hope until Friday when authorities suddenly said the visa would be granted… we were so surprised,” she said, calling the visit a “precious opportunity” for more exchanges with Tibetan Buddhists.
About 400 delegates from some 30 countries will take part in the two-yearly event on the sidelines of the Expo 2012 Yeosu.
China considers the Dalai Lama a “splittist”, despite his calls for autonomy rather than independence for Tibet, and has stepped up pressure on world leaders not to meet him.