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China opposes Dalai Lama visit to Arunachal

October 21, 2009

October 20, 2009

Dharamsala, Oct 20 -- China said Tuesday it was
"firmly opposed" to a planned visit by Tibetan
spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to Arunachal
Pradesh, an Indian region at the centre of a border dispute with China.

Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama
is slated to visit the northeastern state of
Arunachal Pradesh sometime next month. The
proposed November trip will be the Dalai Lama’s
fifth visit to the state, the last one was in 2003.

"China's position on so-called Arunachal Pradesh
is consistent and clear and we firmly oppose the
Dalai Lama's visit to the region," AFP quoted
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu as telling reporters in Beijing.

"China is greatly concerned over the news. We
believe this further exposes the Dalai Lama's
nature of anti-China separatism, as is known to all," Ma added.

India's foreign secretary Nirupama Rao last week
reaffirmed the right of the Tibetan leader to
visit the region, despite previous objections from China.

"We regard and we have always said this clearly
and also to China that His Holiness Dalai Lama is
a spiritual figure, he is a religious figure, and
he does not indulge in political activities on
Indian soil," Rao said Friday, according to a
report by The Indian Express newspaper.

"He is our guest in India and he is free to visit
any part of our country," she added.

India and China traded diplomatic jabs earlier
this month over a visit in early October by
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the state.

Terming China's recent objection to Singhs's
visit to Arunachal Pradesh as "absurd", the Prime
Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile
Samdhong Rinpoche last week said that the visit
Dalai Lama to the north-eastern state next month would be as per schedule.

"How can they dictate things to a sovereign
country like India?" Rinpoche said and added, "its not worth taking note of."

Tenzin Takhla, a spokesman of the Dalai Lama,
reportedly said that the Nobel laureate will
visit Arunachal Pradesh from November 8-15.
According to him the Tibetan leader would visit
and give sermons at Tawang, Diang, Bungzla and Itanagar.

The Dalai Lama espouses non-violence and says he
is only seeking greater rights for Tibetans
within the constitutional framework of the
People's Republic of China. China, however,
routinely vilifies the Dalai Lama and accuses him
of being a "splittist" leading a campaign to
split Tibet from the rest of the country.
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