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Summit cancellation disappoints secretariat

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille made the announcement on Thursday.

Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama. Picture: Facebook.com

CAPE TOWN - The secretariat of the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates on Friday said it's greatly disappointed Cape Town will no longer host the event.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille made the announcement on Thursday.

She said the decision was made primarily due to government's refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa.

The presidency hit back on Friday saying de Lille's comments are inaccurate and misleading.

The secretariat says it advised the City of Cape Town a week ago that nine individuals withdrew their participation in protest.

The gathering was scheduled for later this month and would have been the first summit to be hosted in Africa.

Reacting to allegations by de Lille, Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj sais the mayor's comments are inaccurate and misleading.

"We take strong exception to the utterances of the mayor, which has cast a light on the integrity of the South African government."

He also moved to clarify that government was not to blame, saying officials did not deny the Dalai Lama a visa.

Maharaj added that government holds all laureates of the world in the highest regard.

There's also been fierce criticism from the public, former president FW de Klerk and Archbishop Erasmus Desmond Tutu.

The archbishop on Thursday said he feels his comrades have "spat in his face" while the Dalai Lama himself has accused South Africa of "bullying a simple man".

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said the whole situation was simply embarrassing.

China brands the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, a separatist.

A South African court in 2011 ruled that officials had "unreasonably delayed" a decision on granting him a visa.

Because of the delay, the Dalai Lama was unable to attend Tutu's 80th birthday in Cape Town.

The previous visa denial, in 2009, was also for a peace conference.