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Taiwan President Rejects Visit by Tibetan Spiritual Leader


Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou says the Dalai Lama cannot visit the island in 2009.

Mr. Ma spoke in the capital Taipei Wednesday, days after the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader expressed a desire to make his third visit to the self-ruled island. He visited Taiwan in 1997 and 2002.

The president says although Taiwan welcomes visits from the international religious leaders, the timing is not "appropriate" for the Dalai Lama to do so.

Mr. Ma's decision is apparently aimed at China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of advocating Tibet's separation from Beijing. The Dalai Lama says he is simply seeking greater autonomy for Tibet.

The Taiwanese leader has advocated improved economic ties with the mainland since taking office earlier this year.

Taiwan broke from China after a 1949 civil war, but Beijing insists the island is part of its territory.

China took control of Tibet in 1951, and the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after a failed uprising against Beijing's rule.

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