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Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan

TAIPEI, Aug 26 – Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is to visit Taiwan next week, state media reported Wednesday, in a move expected to anger China despite warmer ties between Beijing and Taipei.

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to arrive Monday and visit southern Kaohsiung county, which was devastated when deadly Typhoon Morakot struck the island more than two weeks ago killing 461 people, the Central News Agency said.

It was not immediately clear if the Ticapitalfmnewn spiritual leader would meet President Ma Ying-jeou during his trip.

The Dalai Lama said last year he wanted to visit Taiwan, in an interview with a local newspaper in Dharamshala, the town in northern India where his exiled government has been based since a failed uprising in 1959.

But Beijing-friendly President Ma said the timing was not right.

The pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) accused Ma of bowing to Beijing while some members of his Kuomintang party also urged him to reconsider.

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of trying to split the nation and reacts angrily to any country hosting the Ticapitalfmnewn leader.

He made a historic first trip to Taiwan in 1997 and visited the island again in 2001, triggering strong condemnation from China.

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However, ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved dramatically since Ma took office last May pledging to boost cross-Strait trade and tourism, after eight years of strained relations under the Democratic Progressive Party.

Beijing still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, despite their split in 1949 after a civil war.

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