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4may20094Dharamshala: Tibet's political and spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, will visit the Czech Republic next month for a conference on democracy and human rights in Asia, his spokesman told AFP on Tuesday.

Tibetan officials said they were bracing for China's reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize winner's planned participation in the conference in Prague, which will be followed by a visit to neighbouring Slovakia. "China will protest at anything," spokesman Tenzin Taklha told AFP over the telephone from the Tibetan leader's home in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala.

Filip Sebek, one of the event’s organisers, said that the two-day conference, entitled "Peace, Democracy and Human Rights in Asia", will begin on September 10. "We are praying against China raking up another row over the visit by His Holiness," said a senior member of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

In March, the 73-year-old monk was denied a visa by South Africa after being invited to a peace conference of Nobel laureates in that country. The South African government admitted its decision was taken to avoid undermining relations with China, which reacts angrily to any country hosting His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Taklha said His Holiness the Dalai Lama will kick off a five-day European tour on September 7 with a visit to Slovakia, where he will attend a private function. It will be the Dalai Lama's second trip to the former Soviet satellite since December 2008.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has lived in India since escaping a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.  The saffron-robed Buddhist monk is reviled by the Chinese government, which has branded him a "monster" and accused him of trying to split the nation -- a charge he denies.

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