Botswana defies China, confirms Dalai Lama visit

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, July 26: Botswana has confirmed it will receive the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama in August as a ‘foreign dignitary’ despite Chinese objection.

Botswana, the land locked country in Southern Africa made the confirmation on Tuesday, reports

“The visit is purely private and the Dalai Lama would be granted the status of a foreign dignitary,” the report quoted Botswana’s Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi as saying.

20400937_1605032926207778_565580819_nAn announcement by the Botswanan government last week about the President’s meeting with the Dalai Lama courted fierce objection from China. Though the Foreign Minister made no conformation on whether the Botswana President Ian Khama will meet the Dalai Lama or not, she did however confirm that the President will extend basic courtesies to Dalai Lama and the government protocol office is charged with the responsibility to facilitate foreign dignitaries which includes the Dalai Lama, the report details.

“The principle of non-interference in the international affairs of other countries is at the core of China’s foreign policy. We therefore expect… China to respect our sovereign decision on this matter,” the report quoted Venson-Moitoi as saying in a parliamentary answer.

The Foreign Minister of the Southern African nation concluded by expressing hope that the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit would not weaken the prevailing strong bonds between the two countries.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is due to speak at the three-day “Mind and Life Dialogue” conference in Botswana’s capital Gaborone on August 19.