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De Lille says sorry to the Dalai Lama

The mayor has said she would like to see if the SA govt will grant him a visa as promised in March 2015.

The Dalai Lama and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille at the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome on 12 December. Picture: Giovanna Gerbi/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has apologised to the Dalai Lama regarding his entry into this country.

De Lille is co-hosting the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome.

The summit was supposed to be held in the Mother City but he wasn't given a visa, resulting in the withdrawal of a number of delegates.

De Lille cited the primary reason as government's failure to grant the spiritual leader a visa.

Government says the Dalai Lama withdrew his application but China later thanked the government for blocking him.

Several laureates then cancelled, resulting in the last minute move to Italy.

De Lille addressed the Dalai Lama at the opening of the three day summit yesterday.

"I've mentioned it to him because again I would like to test whether the South African government was truthful because they promised him if he applies for a visa in March 2015, they would grant him one. I want to keep them to that and see whether they will do it."

The City of Cape Town has said it lost an economic opportunity of about R60 million with the relocation of the summit.

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.