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Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has some high-profile company when it comes to sidestepping the Dalai Lama.
US President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard are among political leaders who have declined to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader.
President Obama copped flak for his 2009 snub when he became the first president not to welcome the Nobel peace prize winner to the White House.
Two years later he was all smiles when he welcomed the Dalai Lama in Washington, although China, which does not recognise Tibetan sovereignty, was not happy and said the meeting harmed its relations with the US.
Closer to home, Australian PM Julia Gillard refused to meet the Dalai Lama in 2011 - following the same tack as her predecessor John Howard - for fear of harming trade ties with China.
And even closer to home, Christchurch civic leaders were accused of ignoring the Dalai Lama during a 2011 visit, with trade ties cited.
In the UK, former Prime Minister Tony Blair was not keen for a meeting back in 2004, a line shared by Scottish leader Alex Salmond last year.
But serving British Prime Minister David Cameron bucked that trend and met the Dalai Lama last year.
He was duly scolded by China and later cancelled a state visit after strong indications he would not be granted meetings with senior figures.