Thursday, August 21, 2008

President Arias admits asking the Dalai Lama to postpone visit

Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias, admitted yesterday that he wrote a letter to the Dalai Lama asking him to cancel his visit to Costa Rica on September 10.

The president, however, denied that his decision was realted to the planned visit for October of China's president, as alleged by the Tibetan-Costa Rican Cultural Association, organizers of the Dalai Lama visit.

Arias said that he will be on a tour to the United States and Europe and lamented he would not be in the country greet him.

"I will be on tour in the United States and Europe and regret that I will not be in the country to greet you. I would be very disappointed to miss your visit, and I hope that by hosting the meeting in 2009 with several Nobel laureates, I am writing to beg to postpone your trip", wrote Arias to the Dalai Lama in a letter dated August 5.

A copy of the letter was distributed to the press by Casa Presidencial.

Arias is expected to leave on September 1 for a trip to Spain, France and the United Kingdom, according to a preliminary report on the president's tour outside Costa Rica.

However, the Tibetan-Costa Rican Cultural Association that the postponement request is related to the Chinese president visit in October.

Maritza Pacheco, president of the Association, said that the explanation is not rational. The visit by the Dalai Lama was not an official visit nor an official invitation and that it would have been nice for the president to greet the Dalai Lama's arrival, but not necessary.

Pacheco added that the Dalai Lama has visited many European and Asian countries and without having been greeted by the presidents of those countries.

Pacheco also refuted the explanation of asking the Dalai Lama to postpone his trip until next to coincide with the meeting of the Nobel laureates in Latin America, saying that "it is difficult to understand what one thing has to do with the other as this is a private visit of a spiritual and cultutal nature."

Costa Rica's opposition legislators have also criticized the Arias decision.

Arias has rejected all arguments contrary to his own, saying that he has a close friendship with the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people.

Chinese leaders have blamed the Dalai Lama of stirring religious conflict in Tibet.

The Dalai Lamas continued to rule Tibet until the People's Republic of China invaded the region in 1949 and then took full control in 1959. The 14th Dalai Lama then fled to India and has since ceded temporal power to an elected government-in-exile.

The current 14th Dalai Lama seeks greater autonomy for Tibet.

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