VATICAN CITY, October 31 - Pope Benedict XVI plans to meet the Dalai Lama in a Vatican audience in December, Italian news agencies reported Wednesday.
Such a meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader would likely add a chill to the Vatican's difficult relations with China. The Dalai Lama's recent meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President George W. Bush have drawn rebukes from Beijing.
The Apcom and ANSA news agencies, quoting unidentified Vatican sources, said the Vatican meeting is planned for Dec. 13. The Vatican had no comment.
Pope Benedict XVI met with the Dalai Lama a year ago, but the Vatican insisted it was a «private» visit and provided no details.
The Dalai Lama insists he seeks only autonomy for Tibet, which China has occupied since 1951. Beijing accuses him of seeking to split the region from China.