Taiwan invites His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit typhoon-hit areas

Dharamshala: The president of Taiwan made an official announcement Thursday that His Holiness the Dalai Lama will visit the island nation to pray for the victims of typhoon Morakot.

Reuters news agency reported that the government has decided to let His Holiness the Dalai Lama visit Taiwan from 31 August- 3 September.

“We have decided to (agree to) the Dalai Lama’s visit to pray for the souls of the deceased and seek blessings for the survivors of the typhoon,” President Ma Ying-Jeou told reporters in central Nantou county, AFP reported.

Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party extended the invitation to Holiness the Dalai Lama on Wednesday.

At least 461 people were killed and 192 are missing after Morakot struck Taiwan from 6 – 9 August. The storm’s record rainfall caused floods and landslides, burying villages and destroying roads, according to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency.

Hsu Li-ming, director of information for the Kaohsiung city government, said His Holiness the Dalai Lama had been invited by the leaders of seven cities in southern Taiwan, according to the Taipei Times newspaper.

During his six-day stay in southern Taiwan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will deliver speeches and visit the areas affected by Typhoon Morakot to comfort the victims of the disaster, Hsu said.

“The Dalai Lama is not only the spiritual leader of Tibet, but also a religious leader,” the city said in a statement. “He also embodies love and peace and has comforted billions of souls over the years. We believe the Dalai Lama’s visit will help the victims get back on their feet.”

Dawa Tsering, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Taiwan, yesterday confirmed that His Holiness had accepted the invitation extended by Taiwanese local government chiefs on Monday. He added that His Holiness might travel to Taiwan as soon as this weekend if it was convenient for Taiwan.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama was saddened to see the homes destroyed by mudslides in Taiwan and would love to come to Taiwan if his visit could give the victims some comfort,” Dawa said.

“[When he will visit] depends on when it would be convenient for Taiwan,” he said.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama earlier visited Taiwan in 1997 and 2001.