South African peace conference postponed

The peace conference scheduled to begin in South Africa on Friday has been postponed indefinitely, following the controversy after the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama was barred from attending.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was expected to join fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates at the conference — which was organized by top soccer officials — but the South African government turned down his application for an entry visa.

The move prompted sharp criticism from among others the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and Retired Cape Town Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is, like the Dalai Lama, a Nobel peace laureate. Tutu was quoted as saying that barring the Dalai Lama was "disgraceful."

As we reported Tuesday, Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee had cancelled plans to participate in Friday's conference. - Our view is quite clear. If Dalai Lama is not allowed in, the Nobel Committeewill not participate in the peace conference, said the Committee Secretary, Geir Lundestad to Oslo newspaper Aftenposten.

- It is disappointing that South Africa, which through the long fight against apartheid has received so much solidarity from the world, doesn't want to give that solidarity to others, says Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad.

The conference was initially supported by the Norwegian Nobel Committee and Norway had contributed NOK 3 million towards the international peace conference which is arranged in connection with the annual football friendly between Norway and South Africa.

Norwegian Minister Norwegian Minister of International Developoment, Erik Solheim had already arrived in South Africa.

The conference was meant to highlight ways in which sport can promote peace ahead of the 2010 World Cup, which is being held in South Africa.

(NRK/The Norway Post)

Rolleiv Solholm

Norway

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