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Day before PM-Wen meet, Rao says no curbs on Dalai

October 26, 2009

Times of India
October 24, 2009

NEW DELHI -- A day before the crucial meeting
between PM Manmohan Singh and his Chinese
counterpart Wen Jiabao in Thailand, India said it
shares a "complex relationship" with China marked
by outstanding issues, all of which are likely to
figure in the discussion between the two leaders on Saturday.

Singh is expected to meet Wen on the sidelines of
the ongoing East Asia and ASEAN summit. The
meeting was hurriedly arranged after Wen
expressed his intention to meet Singh last week.

"It is a relationship which has developed in many
areas. It is also a complex relationship and
there are outstanding issues between the two. The
meeting provides an opportunity to address all
such issues," said foreign secretary Nirupama Rao.

Tibetan leader Dalal Lama's scheduled visit to
Arunachal Pradesh has led to angry exchanges
between the two countries, but Rao on Friday
again reiterated that Dalai Lama was free to
visit any part of the country. "We are against
any political activity by Tibetans in our
country. We regard Dalai Lama as a respected,
spiritual figure and, as we have said earlier, he
is free to visit any place in the country," said
Rao. She admitted that Dalai Lama had expressed
an interest in visiting the state which China
claims as its own even though she added that she wasn't aware of it anymore.

Despite Rao's earlier statement to that effect,
the Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday had again
issued a statement saying that it was firmly
opposed to the Tibetan leader's visit to
"so-called Arunachal Pradesh". The two sides,
however, will have another opportunity to calm
things down when their foreign ministers, S M
Krishna and Yang Jiechi, meet next week in
Bangalore during the ninth trilateral meeting of
foreign ministers from India, China and Russia.

Meanwhile, Singh said before his departure to
Thailand that he would discuss with ASEAN leaders
new initiatives to accelerate the process of
engagement in areas such as greater economic
integration, people-to-people contacts,
agriculture, human resource development,
education, science and technology and information
and communications technology.

"I will also attend the 4th East Asia Summit on
October 25. The East Asia Summit will review
cooperation in five key areas -- energy,
education, finance, avian influenza and national disaster mitigation," he said.

"The summit will provide an opportunity to
discuss regional and international issues of
common interest, and future direction for
community building and cooperation. Asia's
response to the global economic slowdown, food
security, energy security and climate change will
be important issues of discussion," he added.
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