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Foreign ministry to help facilitate Dalai Lama's visit

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will render whatever assistance is needed to facilitate a visit to Taiwan by the Dalai Lama, a MOFA official in charge of consular affairs said Thursday.

However, Lo You-chung, director-general of the MOFA's Bureau of Consular Affairs, said at a regular news conference that to date, his bureau has not received any information or application from the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader regarding his trip to Taiwan to pray for victims of Typhoon Morakot.

Nonetheless, the bureau is ready to assist with the process if the Dalai Lama files an application to visit Taiwan, Lo added.

"The bureau will process the entry application as soon as it is filed via a MOFA overseas liaison office, " Lo said."The Dalai Lama could be issued an entry permit or a visa, depending on how his status is listed on his entry application."

The Dalai Lama could be issued an entry permit if he is classified as a non-resident Republic of China citizen from overseas, Lo said. In that case, the National Immigration Agency under the Ministry of the Interior will be responsible for issuing the permit, he added.

When the Tibetan spiritual leader first visited Taiwan in March 1997, he was issued an entry permit by the National Immigration Agency, Lo said.

However, he could also obtain a Taiwan visa from the Bureau of Consular Affairs if he applies for entry as a stateless individual who does not hold a passport and has only an identification certificate (IC) issued by the Indian government, Lo added.

On his second visit to Taiwan in March 2001, the Dalai Lama entered the country as a stateless individual with an Indian IC, and on a Taiwan visa issued by the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

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