Sri Lanka blocks cricketers visiting Dalai Lama

Updated: 04 May 2010 16:45 IST

Sri Lanka stopped Kumar Sangakkara and another player from calling on the Dalai Lama out of fear that a meeting would anger China, an official said.

Sri Lanka blocks cricketers visiting Dalai Lama

Colombo:

Sri Lanka stopped national cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara and another player from calling on the Dalai Lama out of fear that a meeting would anger China, an official said on Tuesday.

Sangakkara and former skipper Mahela Jayawardene were advised not to join their Indian Premier League teammates who paid a courtesy call on the Tibetan spiritual leader last month, the official said.

"Kumar and Mahela were instructed not to visit the Tibetan leader. It was a foreign ministry directive that was issued to us, via the sports ministry," Sri Lanka cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told AFP.

Sangakkara was the skipper of the Kings XI Punjab in the just concluded IPL tournament. Local media reported that Jayawardene's wife Christina had, however, joined the team to visit the Tibetan spiritual leader

"We were made to understand that we should not upset relations with China," Ranatunga said.

Sri Lanka, a key Buddhist nation, supports a "one-China" policy and regards Beijing as a key political and military ally.

China regularly protests to countries which allow visits by the Dalai Lama. Beijing sees him as a supporter of independence for Tibet, which it regards as Chinese territory. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959.

Beijing has also helped block a resolution censuring Sri Lanka for its handling of the final stages of its war against the Tamil Tiger rebels last year and is a main supplier of small arms to the South Asian nation.

Topics : Cricket
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