Both Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness are Nobel peace prize laureates. "I have invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to attend my 80th birthday celebrations in Cape Town," Tutu said over the weekend, adding that His Holiness has accepted the invitation.
"I am hopeful that our government will facilitate the necessary travel documentation," Tutu said. A visa request was made in June, the Sunday Times reported, but remains stalled.
His Holiness has lived in exile since he fled to India in 1959, following a failed uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet. .
The Chinese government claims His Holiness seeks independence for Tibet, whereas His Holiness says he seeks a meaningful autonomy for Tibet and the six million Tibetan people "within the framework of the Chinese Constitution", and that this would guarantee the preservation of Tibetan culture and language.
Archibishop Tutu, is a long-term supporter of Tibet and has occasionally spoken out against Chinese human rights abuses there. However, the South African government has remained silent on the matter, due to Chinese preasure.
In 2009, South Africa declined His Holiness' request to attend a peace conference connected with the World Cup. The foreign ministry has since said the decision was a mistake, while admitting that it feared antagonizing China, which remains a major trade partner.