Dalai Lama cancels Botswana visit 'due to exhaustion'

GABORONE, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has canceled a planned visit to Botswana because of exhaustion, his office said, a move that is likely to be welcomed by China, a major investor in the African country.

The Dalai Lama had been expected to address a human rights conference in the capital Gaborone on Aug. 17-19 and meet Botswana's president during the trip.

Visits by the Dalai Lama to foreign countries infuriate China, and it stepped up warnings to Botswana last month, with its Foreign Ministry spokesman demanding "the relevant country earnestly respect China's core interests and make the correct political decision on this matter."

Botswana reacted by saying that as a sovereign state, it retained the right to permit anyone to enter the country.

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Dalai Lama through the years
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Dalai Lama through the years
A painting by Kanwal Krishna dated probably in 1930s of young Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso, born in 1935), the traditional religious and temporal head of Tibet's Buddhist clergy. In March 1959, there was an unsuccessful armed uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule. As a result, the Dalai Lama, fled with some 100,000 supporters to northern India, where a government-in-exile was established. The Chinese ended the the former dominance of the lamas (Buddhist monks) and destroyed many monasteries. Tibet (Xizang), occupied in 1950 by Chinese Communist forces, became an 'Autonomous Region' of China in September 1965, but the majority of Tibetans have continued to regard the Dalai Lama as their 'god-king' and to resent the Chinese presence, leading to intermittent unrest. (Photo credit should read KANWAL KRISHNA/AFP/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 10/8/1952-Lhasa, Tibet- Panchen Ngoerhtehni, also known as the Panchen Lama, is shown(left) with the Dalai Lama, boy spiritual leader of Tibet, when they met shortly after the Panchen's arrival in Lhasa, capital of Communist-controlled Tibet. This picture is something of a photographic rarity in that it is probably the first time the two Lamas have been photographed together.
The Dalai Lama giving a white silk scarf to the Chinese President Mao Zedong. Beijing, 1954 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
CANADA - SEPTEMBER 28: Tibet - Dalai Lama in Toronto (Photo by Colin McConnell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, with a young Tibetan child who greeted him at the airport upon his arrival in London, UK, 22nd October 1973. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 11: Youn don't know how difficult it was to restrain ourselves from captioning this picture 'Helllo, Dalai!' But cooler heads prevailed. The Dalai Lama and his loyal follower, Ricard Gere, met the press to promote the 'Internaitonal Year of Tibet,' an exhibition of Tibetan art and culture. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Dalai Lama, 14. *06.07.1935-, (eigentlich Tendzin Gyatsho), Geistliches Oberhaupt der Tibeter, China, Friedensnobelpreis 1989, - mit Papst Johannes Paul II. (Photo by ADN-Bildarchiv/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
AUSTRIA - CIRCA 1973: The 14th Dalai Lama visiting the SOS Children's Village Hinterbr�hl. In the background Hermann Gmeiner. Austria. Photograph. 1973 (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu shares a joke with the Dalai Lama after their meeting, August 21. The Dalai Lama is in the country on a short visit, the first by the Bhuddist leader.
The Dalai Lama (L) prepares the sand mandala, a colour sand picture which will be completed over the nine days of the Kalachakra, September 20, a Buddhist ceremony for world peace which begins in Sydney on September 21. The mandala is painted with fine sands made from soft, white Himalayan stone crushed and then dyed with fourteen brilliant colours.
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: His Holiness the Dalai Lama (L) poses with actor Richard Gere (R) 12 August, 1999, at the end of a press conference to discuss his visit to New York. The Dalai Lama has four days of teachings in New York, culminating in a public talk in Central Park 15 August. AFP PHOTO Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
371206 02: Tibet''s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, speaks to the the media after meeting with congressional leaders, June 20, 2000 in Washington. (Photo by Michael Smith/Newsmakers)
The Dalai Lama and Danielle Mitterrand discussing on a terrasse in Paris. (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)
The Dalai Lama greets well-wishers before addressing a crowd gathered at the Stone Circles at Worthy Farm in Somerset during the Glastonbury Festival in Britain, June 28, 2015. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama talks to the media after his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington February 18, 2010. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION)
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama bows to the crowd outside of the Capitol building after receiving the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 17, 2007. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: His Holiness the Dalai Lama addresses the audience in St Paul's Cathedral after receiving the 2012 Templeton Prize on May 14, 2012 in London, England. The exiled 76-year-old Buddhist Tibetan leader will receive the international prize worth 1.1 million GBP that honours people who 'affirm life's spiritual dimension' from the John Templeton Foundation. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
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The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, has long been at loggerheads over Tibet with China, which brands him a reactionary and separatist. The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, says he seeks greater rights, including religious freedom, and true autonomy for Tibetans.

In a statement late on Friday the Dalai Lama's office said his doctors had advised him to avoid undertaking long journeys for the next few weeks.

"During the past few weeks, His Holiness has found that carrying out his activities has left him unusually tired," it said.

"Although he had been eagerly looking forward to visiting Gaborone ... His Holiness has reluctantly had to concede that his 82-year old body was telling him to rest."

China's fast-growing demand for raw materials has made it one of the biggest investors in Africa and its largest trade partner. Chinese state-owned companies have been awarded contracts to build roads, dams, power stations and airports in Botswana. (Writing by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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