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Indian state slams Beijing over Dalai Lama visit

September 28, 2009

(AFP) - Sept. 24, 2009

GUWAHATI, India - The chief minister of an Indian state at the centre of a
territorial dispute between China and India told Beijing on Thursday to stop
interfering in plans for the Dalai Lama to visit the area.

The Tibetan spiritual leader is scheduled to visit the Tawang monastery in
the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh as well as the capital Itanagar
in November.

China recently said it firmly opposed the visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which
it claims nearly in full.

"China has no business to interfere with the Dalai Lama's proposed visit to
Arunachal Pradesh," the state's chief minister Dorji Khandu told AFP by
telephone.

"We welcome the Dalai Lama's visit and will ensure that his trip is
successful."

The mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030-kilometre
(640-mile) unfenced frontier with China, with the two countries separated by
the McMahon Line, a disputed border known as the Line of Actual Control.

India and China fought a border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing
deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian
troops.

"Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India, and the Dalai Lama is free to go
anywhere in India," India's Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna said recently,
reacting to the Chinese objections.

India's border dispute with China was inherited from British colonial
rulers, who hosted a 1914 conference with the Tibetan and Chinese
governments that set the border in what is now Arunachal Pradesh.

China has never recognised the 1914 McMahon Line and claims 90,000 square
kilometres (34,750 square miles), nearly all of Arunachal Pradesh. India
accuses China of occupying 8,000 square kilometres of Kashmir.

After 1962, tensions flared again in 1986 with Indian and Chinese forces
clashing in Sumdorong Chu valley. Chinese troops reportedly built a helipad
in the valley leading to fresh skirmishes along the border.

Copyright c 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.
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