ROME , Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The Dalai Lama will not meet with Pope Francis during the exiled Tibetan leader's three-day trip to Rome, he confirmed Thursday as he arrived.
"This time I won't meet Pope Francis. The Vatican administration says it's not possible because it could cause inconveniences," he said, a reference to the Vatican's reluctance to upset China and risk possible reprisals against China's Catholic population, which the Pew Center estimated in 2011 numbers about nine million.
Vatican sources expressed the Pope's admiration for the Dalai Lama Thursday, saying the Pope holds him in high esteem. The Dalai Lama said of the Pope, "I admire the simplicity of this religious leader. Other religious leaders practice simplicity, but they have a private life."
The Dalai Lama, a winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, is attending a gathering of Peace Prize winners, billed as the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The three-day event was scheduled to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, but was moved to Rome after the South African government chose not to offer the Dalai Lama a visa, again for fear of offending China, a major trading partner.
The Pope's predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, and the Dalai Lama had a brief private meeting in 2006. Pope Francis will not meet with any of the Nobel laureates during the gathering.