India assures China on Olympic torch relay, repeats Tibet position

April 3rd, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) India has assured China it will do “everything possible” to ensure the success of the Olympic torch relay through its territory and repeated New Delhi’s position of not allowing Tibetan exiles to indulge in anti-Chinese activities. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi rang up Mukherjee Wednesday to brief him about the situation in Tibet and discuss the security of the Olympic torch relay through India.

“I reiterated India’s position that the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of China and assured him that the government of India will take the necessary measures to ensure that the passage of the Olympic torch is a success,” Mukherjee told reporters on the sidelines of India-Africa Editors’ Conference.

India has already shortened the route for the journey in Delhi from nine kilometres to 2.5 kilometres to minimise the chances of disruptions. Earlier, China had expressed concerns about the safety of the Olympic torch relay, scheduled for April 17, after some Tibetan protesters managed to enter the Chinese embassy compound recently in the face of tight security.

Last week, Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo spoke to National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan to discuss the security of the Olympic torch relay through India.

Yang appreciated the steps taken by the Indian side to ensure safety and security of Chinese diplomatic and consular establishments and Chinese citizens in India.

Mukherjee Tuesday had asked the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama not to do anything to “hurt” its ties with China. “The Dalai Lama can stay here as India’s honored guest but he should not do anything that harms India’s diplomatic ties with China,” Mukherjee said.

In view of the Chinese sensitivities on Tibet, Mukherjee did a subtle diplomatic balancing act when described Tibetan leader as “an honoured guest,” but added in the same breath that the government does not allow Tibetans to indulge in anti-China activities on its territory.

“The Dalai Lama is an honoured guest here. He is highly respected. He is a religious and spiritual leader,” Mukherjee said.

“But we reached an understanding with him long time ago that he and his followers will not indulge in any political activities that can affect India’s relations with other countries,” he added.

“The government does not allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India. The Chinese foreign minister expressed his appreciation for government’s position,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters.

There are estimated about 100,000 Tibetan refugees living in India, most of them settled in the north Indian town of Dharamsala which is the seat of the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile which is not recognised by any country.

The two ministers also recalled the successful visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Beijing in January and agreed to work together to “further substantiate bilateral relationship.”

“He (Mukherjee) said that he looked forward to working together with the Chinese foreign minister to implement the main elements of the document on the Shared Vision between the two countries signed by the two prime ministers,” Sarna said.

“The Chinese foreign minister said that bilateral relations were enjoying good momentum,” Sarna added.

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