M A I N   N E W S

Pranab Mukherjee’s message to Dalai Lama
‘Don’t hurt ties with China’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 1
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today urged Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama not to do anything that could “hurt” India’s ties with China while staying here as country’s “guest”. In a firm yet polite message to the Tibetan exiled leader, Mukherejee said, “He is a respected guest and the Dalai Lama can stay here as India’s guest, but he should not do anything that harms India’s diplomatic ties with China”.

“There has been no change in the policy formulated by Jawaharlal Nehru”, Mukherjee said in Murshidabad after inaugurating a college in West Bengal and reiterated India’s position that the Tibetan Autonomous Region was part of China.

Mukherejee’s words are being seen as part of India’s effort to not only apply balm on China’s anxieties about the safety of the Olympic torch relay through India in the second week of this month, but also to send a positive signal to the Left, who have been backing China to the hilt on the issue.

Incidentally, the senior UPA minister has given this message to the Dalai Lama a day after India’s football captain Bhaichung Bhutia had declined to carry the Olympic torch in protest against China’s actions to quell unrest in Tibet.

China continued its two-pronged approach on the issue. On the one hand, Beijing attacked the Dalai Lama saying that it had “sufficient” evidence to prove that exiled Tibetan groups had organised and carried out riots in Lhasa last month on the instigation of the spiritual leader. While, on the other hand Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan called on BJP president Rajnath Singh to explain Beijing’s position on the issue.

Singh, however, conveyed his party’s unhappiness over Chinese action against Tibetan protesters and said Beijing should hold talks with the Dalai Lama to end the standoff.

During the hour-long meeting, Zhang explained in detail the events that unravelled in Lhasa and sought to impress upon Singh that the Communist nation was being projected in a wrong manner.

Singh expressed anguish at the violent incidents and told the Chinese ambassador that dialogue was the only way to resolve the issue and Beijing should engage the Dalai Lama in talks, sources said.

The BJP president told Zhang that views and perceptions of China and India might differ on the Tibetan issue, but the need of the hour was that Beijing should open a channel of dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

The envoy expressed concern that attempts are being made to pressurise the government to boycott the Olympic games, in an apparent reference to former defence minister George Fernandes, who has made such a demand.

Significantly, the meeting comes days after Singh, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh issued a joint statement condemning the Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protesters.

Beijing apparently is keen to hold the Olympic games and first step towards it is to ensure that the journey of Olympic torch is safe and without any untoward incident.



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