In a signal to both the Dalai Lama and Beijing, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has described the Tibetan leader as a “respected guest”, but stressed that he should not do anything that could adversely affect India-China relations.
“He is a respected guest in India,” Mukherjee said with reference to the Dalai Lama while on a visit to West Bengal on Tuesday. His comments are in line with New Delhi’s official policy towards the Dalai Lama.
“India will continue to offer him all hospitality, but during his stay in India, they (Tibetan refugees) should not do any political activity, any action that can adversely affect relations between India and China,” Mukherjee said.
Following protests in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other regions in China, Tibetan protesters stormed the Chinese embassy in New Delhi last month, complicating bilateral ties.
Asked to comment on Mukherjee’s observations, Tempa Tsering, representative of the Dalai Lama, told Hindustan Times: “He
(the Tibetan leader) is not engaged in any political activity.”
“His Holiness is engaged in working to protect Tibetan rights and the preservation of Tibetan culture,” Tsering said.
On March 24, Mukherjee, taking questions from reporters along with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said in Washington that 1,80,000 Tibetan refugees in India were free to carry on their religious, cultural and spiritual activities, but could not engage in political work.
“We have expressed our concern in Parliament about the latest development (in Tibet). We do hope it will be possible to resolve the issue through peaceful dialogue between the parties concerned,” he added.
Earlier, on March 15, the Ministry of External Affairs said India was “distressed” by reports of the unsettled situation and violence in Lhasa, and by the deaths of innocent people.