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Nepal bans anti-China activities but Dalai Lama allowed entry

world Updated: Jul 06, 2009 23:30 IST

Under growing pressure from the Chinese government after six of its lawmakers met exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama in India, Nepal announced a ban on all anti-China and pro-Tibet activities from Monday, celebrated by the Tibetan diaspora worldwide as the 74th birthday of the Nobel laureate.

However, a senior minister clarified that there was no bar on the spiritual leader visiting Nepal as long as international laws were respected and the visit had no political agenda.

Nepal's home ministry said any activity "undermining the friendship between Nepal and China would not be allowed".

"Those involved in such activities would be subject to action as per existing laws," the ministry said in a press statement amid speculation that the TIbetan community in Nepal would try to stage demonstrations demanding a "Free Tibet" Monday on the occasion of the Dalai Lama's birthday.

The move came after Beijing expressed its concern over the visit to Dharamsala, the Indian town where the Dalai Lama's government in exile sits, by six lawmakers who were given an audience by the Tibetan leader as well as the 17th Karmapa, one of the top religious leaders of the community.

While the four parties to which the MPs belong distanced themselves from the visit, saying the lawmakers had gone as individuals without informing their parties, Nepal's foreign ministry criticised the trip, calling it undesirable.

However, Siddharth Gautam, whose NGO, Lumbini Foundation for Development and Peace, had arranged the trip for the MPs, said that he was hosting an international Buddhist summit in Lumbini, the town in southern Nepal where the Buddha was born.

Gautam said the Dalai Lama would be invited to the meet.

The exiled leader had last visited Lumbini in 1983.

Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gacchadar said that there was no ban on the Dalai Lama.

"If any foreigner wants to visit Nepal, our constitutional laws allow that as long as the visitor obeys the laws of Nepal and does not indulge in political activities," Gachhadar said.

More than 20,000 Tibetans live in Nepal after fleeing Tibet following the Chinese invasion in 1949.

Last year, there were protests by the diaspora against the "violation of human rights" in Tibet by the Chinese government, embarrassing Beijing on the eve of the Summer Olympic Games.

Though the Maoist government that came to power in last August succeeded in curbing the protests, to China's concern fresh demonstrations erupted recently during the tenure of the new communist-led coalition, leading to the arrest of 35 people.