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The Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal on, Rijiju to meet him

New Delhi: The week-long visit of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh next month will take place as scheduled, notwithstanding objections by China.

The Dalai Lama will be in the north eastern state from April 4 to 13 and Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, among others, will meet him there.

During his visit to Tawang bordering China, the spiritual leader will be hosted by the Buddhist Tawang monastery where he will be meeting his followers.

“The Dalai Lama will be a guest of the Arunachal Pradesh government and as a devotee, I will meet him in Tawang,” Rijiju, who represents the Arunachal-West Lok Sabha constituency under which Tawang falls, told PTI here.

Peeved over the proposed visit, China today warned India against allowing him to visit Arunachal Pradesh, saying it would cause “serious damage” to the bilateral ties and peace in the “disputed” border region.

“China is gravely concerned over information that India has granted permission to the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in Beijing.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of Tibet and routinely objects to any visit by top leaders, officials and diplomats to the area.

Rijiju, however, said the Dalai Lama is going to visit the state as a religious leader and there is no reason to stop him as his followers are demanding he should come.

Asked about China’s objections, Rijiju said the central government is run by a nationalist party which considers the country’s interests first.

“We are neither going to be dominated by anyone nor shall we dominate any of our neighbours. But we give prime importance to India’s interests,” he said, without making any reference to China.

Ignoring China’s protests, the government had earlier allowed former US ambassador to India Richard Verma and Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh last year.