Opposition party officials in Taiwan have invited Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to visit the island to pray for victims of a devastating typhoon that hit earlier this month.
The officials who extended the invitation to the Dalai Lama are local government leaders in southern Taiwan, the area worst hit by the passage of Typhoon Morakot. They all are members of the Democratic Progressive Party, which has criticized the government of President Ma Ying-jeou for its handling of the typhoon.
Dalai Lama spokesman Tenzin Takhla said Wednesday in India that the spiritual leader has accepted the invitation to visit southern Taiwan in principle. But Takhla said the Dalai Lama will not make the trip unless Mr. Ma's government approves it.Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for Tibet and strongly criticizes other governments for hosting him.
President Ma rejected a request by the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Taiwan last year. The Dalai Lama is based in Dharamsala, India.
China-Taiwan relations improved significantly after Mr. Ma took office last year and dropped the pro-independence stance of his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian.
Taiwan says Typhoon Morakot left at least 650 people dead or missing, making it the most destructive storm to hit the island in half-a-century.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.