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Tawang is part of India: Dalai Lama

June 5, 2008

Times of India
June 4, 2008

NEW DELHI: For the first-time, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama
has said that Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, a territory that's still
claimed by China, is part of India.

Acknowledging the validity of the MacMohan Line as per the 1914 Simla
Agreement in an interview to Navbharat Times , he said that Arunchal
Pradesh was a part of India under the agreement signed by Tibetan and
British representatives.

In 2003, while touring Tawang, the Dalai Lama had been asked to
comment on the issue, but had refused to give a direct answer, saying
that Arunachal was actually part of Tibet. China doesn't recognize
the MacMohan Line and claims that Tawang and Arunachal Pradesh are
part of its territory.

The statement is bound to impact the India-China dialogue, as Beijing
has already stated that if Tawang is handed to it, it will rescind
claim on the rest of Arunachal Pradesh. The Chinese proposal is
strategically unacceptable to India, as Tawang is close not just to
the northeastern states but also to Bhutan. Tawang is also a key
Buddhist pilgrimage site as it was the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama.

Commenting on the largescale resettlement of Hans in Tibet, the
Tibetan leader said two-third of Lhasa's population is now Han, but
Tibetans are still a majority in the region. He also expressed
astonishment at the fact that the Chinese government disputes his
claims on his country, adding, "The entire world knows we do not want
separation from China. We only want to retain our cutural and
spiritual identity. Tibet must be recognized as a special territory,
that is all we ask."
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