'Pope won't be meeting Dalai Lama'

The Tibetan spiritual leader is attending the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

FILE: The wind lifts the skull cap of Pope Francis as he addresses the crowd during his general audience at St Peter's square on 10 December, 2014 at the Vatican. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The Vatican has confirmed Pope Francis will not be meeting with the Dalai Lama during his visit to Italy.

The Tibetan Spiritual leader is in Rome to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

The summit was supposed to be held in Cape Town, but was cancelled due to a visa debacle around the Dalai Lama.

Rome's Mayor quickly stepped in to offer the city as the event's host on behalf of Cape Town.

Vatican City officials have ruled out Pope Francis will be meeting the Dalai Lama this time around, saying it will be better to wait until the time is right.

The Pope apparently holds the Tibetan Spiritual leader in high regard.

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.

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

But an issue involving a Catholic minority in China has apparently been behind the decision.

The Pope is however sending a trusted cardinal to put in an appearance at the three-day event which starts this morning.

South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize laureates Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk have both confirmed they will not be attending.

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 Tutu's 80th birthday in Cape Town in October 2011. The previous visa denial, in 2009, was also for a peace conference.