NEW DELHI: It is India’s consistent policy to treat the Dalai Lama as an honoured guest in the country and as a respected religious leader who enjoys a large following here, said the government in response to China’s publicly expressed reservations against PM Narendra Modi’s conversation with Dalai Lama on his birthday. It was only the second time that Modi had spoken to the spiritual leader on his birthday on Wednesday since taking over as PM in 2014.
“His Holiness is accorded all due courtesies and freedom to conduct his religious and spiritual activities in India. His Holiness’ birthday is celebrated by many of his followers in India and abroad. The birthday greetings by Hon’ble PM to his Holiness on his 87th birthday should be seen in this overall context,” said external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
Asked about the PM and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s birthday wishes for Dalai Lama, the Chinese foreign ministry had said that the Indian side should also “fully recognise the anti-China separatist nature of the 14th Dalai Lama, abide by its commitment to China on Tibet-related issues, be cautious in words and deeds, and stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs”.
The spokesperson also urged the US to fully recognise the importance and sensitivity of Tibet-related issues, to “earnestly respect China’s core interests, recognise the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai clique, abide by the US commitments on Tibet-related issues, and refrain from any form of contact with the Dalai Lama”.
While China had earlier also expressed reservations over reports that India might host a G20 meeting in J&K or Ladakh in the run up to the summit next year, the MEA said there’s no need to speculate about the venue at this stage. “India will assume the presidency of G20 from December 2022. Apart for the Summit next year, a large number of G20 events at different levels will be organized across the country during our presidency. There is no need to speculate at this stage,” said Bagchi.