Taiwanese President Ma Ying jeou says his government has agreed to a visit by the Dalai Lama to comfort survivors of a devastating typhoon.

Such a visit is likely to anger China, which considers the Buddhist spiritual leader a "splittist" for promoting Tibetan autonomy. The move comes at a time when China and Taiwan are developing closer ties after decades of enmity. China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949.

Ma made the surprise announcement Thursday as he visited a school in Nantou County that was destroyed in mudslides triggered by Typhoon Morakot that hit Aug. 8-9. The storm claimed 670 lives.

Several local officials have invited the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan toward the end of the month.