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South Korea refuses Dalai Lama visit

UNI, May 23, 2006

Seoul, South Korea -- South Korea has refused to let the Dalai Lama enter the country out of consideration for Seoul's relations with China, an official said on Tuesday. The exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader had applied for a visa to visit South Korea next month for a conference of Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

<< NO VISIT: South Korea decided rejecting the request, considering ''overall relations with China and national interests.”

South Korea decided to reject the request, considering ''overall relations with China and national interests,'' said a Foreign Ministry official, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

China urges other countries not to host the Dalai Lama, saying he is a separatist bent on gaining independence for Tibet.

China annexed Tibet by force in 1950. The Dalai Lama went into exile in India following an aborted uprising against Chinese rule in the territory. He won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent struggle against Chinese rule of Tibet.

China is South Korea's number one trade partner, with their trade volume topping US0 billion last year. Seoul also needs Beijing's help in persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions.

China is the North's last major ally and a key supplier of food and other aid for the impoverished communist state.

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