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Dalai Lama arrives in Rome for peace summit

Rome's mayor offered to host the summit on behalf of Cape Town after it cancelled the event in September.

FILE: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama. Picture: AFP.

ROME - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has arrived in Rome to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

Rome's mayor offered to host the summit on behalf of Cape Town after it was announced in September the event would be cancelled.

The spiritual leader claimed he was denied a South African visa which prompted several laureates to cancel their trips to the Mother City.

The Dalai Lama is no stranger to the country, with this the ninth time the Italian capital is hosting the summit.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille is also in the eternal city and will co-host the three-day summit.

Members of the public and previous Nobel Peace Prize winners are expected to cram into the Auditorium Parco della Musica tomorrow morning.

As winter has set in and the tourism season is over, Romans have welcomed the financial contribution the summit will make to the economy.

Previous delays in dealing with the Dalai Lama's visa requests by the African National Congress-led government have angered South Africans who see it as a betrayal of the country's commitment to human rights since apartheid ended 20 years ago.

China brands the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet, a separatist. The Dalai Lama says he is seeking more autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

A South African court ruled two years ago that officials had "unreasonably delayed" a decision on granting the Dalai Lama a visa in 2011,

Because of the delay, the Dalai Lama was unable to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday in Cape Town in October 2011. The previous visa denial, in 2009, was also for a peace conference.

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