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PM rebuffs Beijing over Dalai Lama
Published on 26 Oct. 2009 12:51 AM IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday rebuffed Beijing over its opposition to the Dalai Lama’s planned visit to Arunachal Pradesh while declaring that he and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao have agreed to maintain “peace and tranquility” along their disputed border. In his first public comment since China came out strongly against the Tibetan spiritual leader’s November trip to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, a state Beijing claims, the prime minister described the Dalai Lama as a religious leader and India’s “honoured guest”. At a press conference at the end of his hectic two-day visit to Thailand, Manmohan Singh said he was not aware of the travel plans of the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. “I have explained this position to the Chinese leadership... I explained to Premier Wen that the Dalai Lama is our honoured guest. He is a religious leader,” Manmohan Singh said. Manmohan Singh’s comments followed his formal delegation-level discussions with Wen Saturday morning on the sidelines of the India-ASEAN Summit. But he quickly added that the talks over the Dalai Lama took place at a dinner hosted by the Thai prime minister Saturday night. Manmohan Singh said he had “frank and constructive exchange of views” with Wen at both the interactions Saturday - the first meeting between the two leaders since they met in New York in September last year. “The premier and I reaffirmed the need to maintain peace and tranquility on the border pending the resolution of the boundary question. “We ... agreed that existing mechanism for bilateral cooperation should be used to resolve all issues amicably in the spirit of strategic and cooperative partnership. The Chinese foreign minister will be visiting India in two days and the foreign ministers (of India and China) will have an opportunity to discuss all issues which have a bearing on our relationship. “We both agree that the boundary question is a complex question and that pending the resolution of the boundary question we both have an obligation to maintain peace and tranquility along the border. “One doesn’t have to go to the media to accentuate or exaggerate the amount of differences that prevail.” Manmohan Singh said he raised with Wen the reported issue of a dam being built on the Chinese side of the Brahmaputra, an issue that has generated fears of water scarcity in India’s northeast. “I conveyed to him that cooperation in the area of trans-border rivers is of mutual benefit... He said that relevant discussions on trans-border river issues could be held through the expert level mechanism that we have constituted.” But the prime minister said he did not raise the issue of Arunachal Pradesh or the issue of visas to people of Jammu and Kashmir on separate papers. “Whether it is Arunachal or Jammu and Kashmir, they are integral parts of our country.” On the Commonwealth Games: Manmohan Singh admitted to some delays in the execution of projects, but said that mechanisms now in place will work effectively and visitors “will see a spectacular show” in October 2010. On Maoism: I have stated repeatedly that the Naxalite problem has emerged as the biggest internal security threat. Both the central and state governments have an obligation to take effective steps to control the problem. Kashmir: It is our desire to engage all sections of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir to find practical, pragmatic solutions to the problems facing the state... I have already had two-three meetings with the Hurriyat people. They promised to come back with specific suggestions. I am still waiting for them. Monetary policy: Monetary policy is the preserve of the Reserve Bank of India. I am satisfied that both the monetary and fiscal policies in our country are in line with our requirements. On union minister A. Raja: It is not proper for me to join issue with a cabinet colleague in public. Myanmar: The next year’s elections should see a reconciliation of the various segments of the Myanmar society.

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