December 17, 2016 3:41:47 am
INDIA ON Friday rejected China’s objection to a meeting between President Pranab Mukherjee and the Dalai Lama and said that he was a revered spiritual leader and it was a non-political event. This is the second time in the last two months that Beijing has raised the issue of the Dalai Lama with New Delhi — a reflection of the strained relations between the two countries.
New Delhi’s moves are being perceived as an attempt to gain leverage with Beijing. In recent months, China has blocked India’s attempts to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as also to get Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist at the UN.
“India has a consistent position. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a respected and revered spiritual leader. It was a non-political event organised by Nobel laureates dedicated to the welfare of children,” Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media.
Hours before, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang had told a media briefing in Beijing, “Recently, in disregard of China’s solemn representation and strong opposition, the Indian side insisted on arranging for the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to the Indian Presidential palace, where he took part in an event and met President Mukherjee.”
Replying to a question on the Dalai Lama’s presence in the opening session of ‘Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit’, organised by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation on December 10, Shuang said, “The Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to that.”
In October this year, China had also raised objections on the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh in March 2017. Beijing had said that his visit will damage India’s relationship with China. Invitation to the “Dalai Lama for activity in the disputed areas between China and India will only damage peace and stability of the border areas as well as bilateral relationship between China and India,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang had said.
India had rejected Chinese objections then as well.
The face-off over the recent meeting with Mukherjee and the proposed trip to Arunachal comes at a time when China has blocked India from joining the NSG, a powerful 48-nation bloc, and is seen as siding with long-time ally Pakistan at a time when New Delhi and Islamabad are caught in the worst tension in more than a decade.
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