Dalai Lama’s presence in India irritant to China: Tharoor

November 10th, 2009 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Shashi Tharoor New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) Reacting to China’s “dissatisfaction” over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor Tuesday said the Tibetan religious leader’s presence in India was itself an “irritant” to Beijing.
“If the Dalai Lama is in india, it will be a source for irritation for China,” Tharoor said in answer to a query at a session during WOrld Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said in Beijing Tuesday India had ignored China’s request to stop the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as its own.

“The Indian side disregarded the solemn position of China in allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the disputed area of the eastern section of the China-India border region,” Qin said, adding, “China expresses strong dissatisfaction about that.”

Earlier, Indian leaders have repeatedly said the Dalai Lama was an “honoured guest” of India and was free to travel anywhere in the country as part of his religious duties.

The Tibetan leader was in Tawang Sunday, where he gave religious discourses to disciples who had travelled long distances to hear him. Over 30,000 Tibetans and followers of the Dalai Lama congregated in Tawang to listen to his discourse.

Tawang is on the route the Dala Lama used when he fled from Tibet into India in 1959. It was, in fact, the Dalai Lama’s first halt after the arduous trek in Tibet.

Speaking on the larger issue of Sino-Indian relations, Tharoor said while the border dispute was important, it was not likely to lead to any dramatic flare-up.

“Since 1962 (when war broke out with China), the border has by and large been manned without incident and it suggests that these tensions will be overcome,” he said.

Later, speaking to reporters, Tharoor said there was no need to increase rhetoric between the two countries.

“My view is that we have reached a point where we are saying what we have already said. I don’t wish, therefore, personally to increase the temperature.”

The minister described Arunachal Pradesh as a “territory of India”, and added: “India’s territorial integrity is not negotiable. But let me stress that we are anxious to move on.”

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