Dalai Lama to meet pope

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will meet Pope John Paul II on November 27 during a visit to Italy, his spokesman Tenzin Taklha has said.

The Tibetan leader said October 19 on a visit to Prague that he hoped to meet soon with the Polish-born pope, explaining: "Both of us have experience with atheist and totalitarian regimes."

The Dalai Lama last met the pope in October 1999, when 20 religious leaders issued a joint call against the use of religion in fuelling violence.

The Dalai Lama will be in Italy from November 25 to 28 and will also meet with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, during a conference of Nobel laureates on the role of ethics in politics and economics, Taklha said.

Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, a year after the Dalai Lama won the prestigious award for his non-violent opposition to Chinese rule in Tibet.

The Dalai Lama will also deliver a public talk in Rome on November 26 and meet with Italian lawmakers who have formed a parliamentary group dedicated to Tibet.

The 68-year-old Buddhist monk has lived in exile in India since 1959 when he fled a failed uprising in Lhasa.

It will be the Dalai Lama's 18th visit to Italy.