Pope cancels meeting with Dalai Lama

Agence France-Presse, December 13, 2007

Rome, Italy -- TIBET'S exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama arrived in Rome for an annual summit of Nobel peace laureates but a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was cancelled at the last minute.

The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1989, will be received by Italy's lower house of parliament. He came to Rome from northern Italy where he lectured at a seminary, the Telenews agency reported.

Apart from the Tibetan leader, the former Russian and Polish presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa, who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 and 1983, are attending the Annual Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome.

The summit has been orgainsed by the city of Rome for the past eight years.

Beijing has complained to the Italian foreign ministry over the visit, even though the Dalai Lama will not meet with any members of the Italian government.

A planned meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was cancelled, in a decision that Italian media reports said facilitated the ordination on Tuesday of a new bishop in Guangdong, southern China, with the Vatican's approval.

The political high point of the Dalai Lama's stay will likely be his meeting with Italian MPs in Rome.