Dalai Lama cancels Botswana trip with 'exhaustion'

Dalai Lama cancels Botswana trip with 'exhaustion'

The cancellation follows agitation by China which has warned Botswana against hosting the 82-year-old exiled leader.

The Dalai Lama's statement says he thanked Botswana's president and government "for their unwavering principled stand to welcome him to their country, despite overwhelming pressure not to do so".

A message published on the website of his office stated: "The Dalai Lama has written today to both His Excellency Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, and Dr Susan Bauer-Wu, President of Mind & Life Institute, expressing profound regret at having to cancel his impending visit to Botswana due to exhaustion".

"His Holiness has reluctantly had to concede that his 82-year-old body was telling him to rest".

China's ruling Communist party views the Dalai Lama as a risky "separatist" campaigning for Tibetan independence.

"During the past few weeks, His Holiness has found that carrying out his activities has left him unusually exhausted", said the statement, adding: "Since his physicians have also advised him to avoid undertaking long journeys for the next few weeks, His Holiness will return to Dharamsala to recuperate".

Neighboring South Africa has denied visa to the Buddhist monk three times since 2009. It consistently condemns other countries which let him visit.

The announcement of his visit by the Botswana presidency was followed by a warning from China which said it will "certainly not tolerate another country doing anything that harms China's core interests". He favours "greater autonomy" for Tibetans rather than complete independence.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang last month called for Botswana to "earnestly respect" China's sovereignty, and "make the right decision" on Tibet-related issues. In Botswana it has helped build power plants, road networks, bridges and schools.