Pope Francis will not meet the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama because of the “delicate situation” with China, the BBC reportsquoting the Vatican.
The Dalai Lama, who is visiting Rome, had requested a meeting.
A Vatican spokesman said that although the Pope held him “in very high regard”, the request had been declined “for obvious reasons”.
Correspondents say the Vatican does not want to jeopardise efforts to improve relations with China.
China describes the Dalai Lama as a separatist and reacts angrily when foreign dignitaries meet him.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet.
He now advocates a “middle way” with China, seeking autonomy but not independence for Tibet. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
“Pope Francis obviously holds the Dalai Lama in very high regard but he will not be meeting any of the Nobel laureates,” a Vatican spokesman said. He added that the Pope would send a video message to the conference.
The Dalai Lama told Italian media that he had approached the Vatican regarding a meeting but had been told it could create inconveniences.