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IL MESSAGERO, LA REPUBBLICA (Italy)

MILAN - Under mounting pressure from the Chinese government, Milan's city council cancelled a vote planned this week that would have awarded honorary citizenship to the Dalai Lama, the Italian daily Il Messagero reported.

The Tibetan spiritual leader, who has gathered similar honors over the years from Rome, Venice and other cities around Europe, is scheduled to visit Milan next week where the Italian city's representatives had previously signed a resolution committing to plans for the honorary citizenship.

But Italian press reported that pressures against the vote was mounting from Chinese representative and from the Italian foreign ministry. Milan will host the 2015 Universal Exposition and, according to La Repubblica, the council didn't want to jeopardize relations with China, which was the first country to formalize its participation to the event.

The final city council vote to reverse the plans to give the Dalai Lama the keys to the city was 16-12, with three abstensions. Milan's left-leaning mayor, Giuliano Pisapia, who abstained, said that the decision was taken "to try to avoid that some levels of enmity in the world could be accentuated." The mayor added the he still plans to welcome the Dalai Lama to Milan's city hall, Palazzo Marino.

But Democratic party council member Pietro Tatarella, who voted in the minority, wasn't buying it. "Today, I am ashamed to be a representative of a council and a city that are scared."

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