India downplays Kamal Nath visit cancellation, China upset at media

March 27th, 2008 - 9:20 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) The Chinese envoy felt that the Tibetan unrest had been blown out of proportion by the Indian media, even as India sought to play down the cancellation of Commerce Minister Kamal Nath’s visit to Beijing. “Your media have blown it out of proportion,” said Zhang Yan, China’s Ambassador to India, as he rushed to his car after attending a seminar of experts from Russia, India and China. His statement was in reply to a query if he was satisfied with the security around the embassy due to heightened threat from Tibetan activists.

The Chinese embassy has been under blanket security cover since the Lhasa riots broke out earlier this month, which led Tibetan activists to breach the security cordon repeatedly. They even managed to get inside the embassy compound last Friday, which reportedly caused Beijing to summon Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao for a late night meeting.

After Kamal Nath’s visit to China next week was cancelled, there was media speculation that the action was in retaliation for Beijing’s alleged diplomatic high-handedness.

But the Indian minister Thursday denied the visit cancellation had any diplomatic overtones.

“But my trip has not been called off because of any diplomatic reasons. My trip was cancelled because of problems in dates,” Nath clarified on the margins on an event to release a report prepared by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission here.

“We had to cancel the trip for the time being and we will seek fresh dates,” Nath said.

The Chinese ambassador also held a meeting with Home Minister Shivraj Patil to discuss the security detail for the passage of the Olympic torch through India.

China has been concerned that journey of the Olympic flame will be disrupted by Tibetan protestors as India hosts the largest number of Tibetan refugees in the world.

India Wednesday promised watertight security for the Olympic torch relay as it passes through the country during a five-continent odyssey ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

“We will make special arrangements (for the torch relay). We will make all possible arrangements for the event,” National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan said.

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