Taiwan's office in India set to issue visa for Dalai Lama

New Delhi, India, Aug. 27 (CNA) Taiwan's representative office in New Delhi is expected to issue a visa later Thursday for the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan next week, W. C. Weng, Taiwan's envoy to India, said Thursday.
"The Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in New Delhi is likely to receive an official notification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei later Thursday, and will be able to promptly issue a visa to allow the Tibetan spiritual leader to enter Taiwan for a stay from Aug. 31- Sept. 4," Weng told the Central News Agency.
According to Weng, his office will issue a visa for foreign visitors to the Dalai Lama so as to avert unnecessary complications.
An entourage of about 19 members will accompany the Dalai Lama to Taiwan, he added.
Earlier Thursday during an inspection tour of the disaster areas in Nantou County, President Ma Ying-jeou announced that his administration has approved a visit to Taiwan by the Dalai Lama to comfort victims of Typhoon Morakot.
Ma in December declined to grant the Dalai Lama a visit, saying the timing was not right. The president was just embarking on unprecedented efforts to reduce tensions and strengthen economic ties with China at the time.
The Tibetan spiritual leader has repeatedly said that he would be very willing to visit Taiwan again as long as it would not create trouble for the government.
The Dalai Lama first visited Taiwan in 1997. He then came to Taiwan in 2001, holding a visa only available to Taiwanese citizens which was made possible with consent from the Ministry of the Interior and the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission.
According to Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi, the government's decision to authorize the visit was based on religious and humanitarian considerations.
"We think this matter should not hurt relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait," Wang said.
On whether Ma will meet with the Dalai Lama during his stay in Taiwan, Wang said this will remain a hypothetical question until the Tibetan spiritual leader officially files an application for the visit.
Wang said the Dalai Lama had written to Ma in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot to convey his concern over the disaster, and Ma replied Aug. 24 to express his appreciation.
Commenting on the issue Thursday, Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng said the Dalai Lama' s upcoming visit will be religious in nature and that he believes Beijing will view the matter from a humanitarian perspective, which will help minimize any possible political fallout.
Also, the legislative speaker said he believes the Dalai Lama will comply with Taiwan's request to avoid any political activities while in the country, so as not to cause any misunderstanding between Taipei and Beijing.
Thekchen Choeling, secretary general of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, northern India, confirmed on the same day that the Tibetan spiritual leader had received an invitation issued by Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to visit Taiwan later this month. But he declined to comment further.
The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in Dharamsala since fleeing to India following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
Choeling said Wednesday that the Dalai Lama is "very willing" to visit southern Taiwan to give morale support to the victims of Typhoon Morakot, which lashed Taiwan Aug. 7-10.
Seven mayors and magistrates of cities and counties in the typhoon-stricken areas, who are also members of the DPP, extended the invitation to the Dalai Lama, asking him to come to Taiwan and pray for the victim in the wake of the storm.
They are heads of some of the municipalities in areas that were hardest hit by Morakot -- the worst to sweep southern Taiwan in 50 years.
A national mourning ceremony will be held Sept. 7 in Kaohsiung for the dead.
As of Tuesday, confirmed fatalities from the disaster had reached 461, with 192 others reported missing and 46 injured, according to the Central Emergency Operation Center.
(By C. H. Kuo and Flor Wang)

Updated : 2021-02-25 10:30 GMT+08:00