Pope Francis won't meet with the Dalai Lama during his visit to Rome, apparently to avoid antagonizing China. But he's sending a greeting to past Nobel Peace Prize laureates gathering in the city for their annual summit.

The Tibetan monk was quoted by the ANSA news agency as saying Thursday that Vatican authorities had nixed a meeting with him "because it might create inconveniences."

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said he couldn't confirm that an audience had been refused. But he said a papal greeting would be sent.

Francis has followed the line of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI in trying to improve relations with Beijing, which were severed in 1951 after the officially atheistic Communist Party took power and set up its own church outside the pope's authority.