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Dalai Lama an "Honored Guest" in India

  • VOA Tibetan

India says the Dalai Lama is an "honored guest" in the country, in response to China's reported protest of the Tibetan leader's meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 11.

Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said Saturday the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader respected by millions of people in India. He reiterated his country considers the Tibetan Autonomous Region to be part of the Chinese republic in what he said was an attempt to end the controversy.

"The Indian position has been stated many times. It is unequivocal and categorical. The Dalai Lama is an honoured guest in India, is a spiritual leader and is held as such by millions of Indians," said External Affairs Minister SM Krishna according to Indo-Asia News Service.

"We do not encourage anyone to get into political activities which will concern the relationship between the two countries," he said.

"The Tibetan Autonomous Region is part of the Chinese republic. I think that should bring down the curtain on any controversy."

An aide to the Dalai Lama dismissed on Saturday reported criticism by China of a meeting between the Tibetan spiritual leader and India's prime minister.

The Dalai Lama made a "routine call" on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi last week, Tempa Tsering, representative of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, told AFP.

According to Tsering, the Dalai Lama met Manmohan Singh for the first time since Singh sworn in for his second tenure as the Prime Minister of India. He said the two men had previously met about two years ago.

The meeting with Singh came after India's foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, the most senior civil servant in the Indian foreign ministry, held talks with the Dalai Lama in the northern Indian hill station of Dharamshala in July.

China last year objected to the Tibetan leader’s visit to the Indian border state of Arunachal Pradesh which China claims as its territory and refers to as “Southern Tibet”. The Indian Prime Minister defended his government’s position to allow the Tibetan leader’s visit saying he was India’s guest, and that he had the right to visit anywhere in India.

Neighboring China has complained about Tibetan exiles' activities in India and accused the Dalai Lama of trying to stir up tensions between Beijing and New Delhi. India's government says it does not allow any anti-China activities on its territory, including Dharamsala. The Dalai Lama says he seeks only cultural autonomy for his homeland.

The Buddhist monk has lived in exile since fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. An estimated 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, about 100,000 of them in India.

Some information for this report was provided by IANS, PTI and AFP

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