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Saran meets Dalai Lama

Saran meets Dalai Lama

india Updated: Mar 19, 2006 01:44 IST

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran on Saturday travelled to McLeodganj, seat of the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile, to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader — a move that is unlikely to please China.

The meeting, coming days after the Indian and Chinese special representatives met to work on a framework agreement on the troubled border issue, is being viewed as significant, sources indicated.

Special representatives Dai Bingguo and National Security Advisor MK Narayanan met for detailed discussions in the calm backwaters of Kumarakom in Kerala last week to work on details of a package solution to the boundary issue.

Saran was accompanied at Saturday's meetings by Ashok Kantha, the joint secretary in the MEA looking after relations with China. After an hour-long meeting with Samdhong Rimpoche, Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Saran and Kantha had lunch with the Dalai Lama.

The move is not likely to go down well with Beijing but, analysts said, it was necessary for Saran to meet the Dalai Lama to “touch base and keep him informed of what was happening”, especially with China's deputy Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan deciding to get "proactive" in Nepal.

Also, India has not taken kindly to severe Chinese criticism of its civilian nuclear agreement with the United States, which was firmed up when US President George Bush visited India earlier this month.

The Chinese media, including the Communist Party of China's official publication, the People's Daily, said the Indo-US civilian nuclear energy deal poses a "great challenge" to the non-proliferation regime.

Officials denied there was any link between the visit, which they claimed was "routine," and other developments. The visit, they said, was pre-arranged and the foreign secretary calls on the Dalai Lama several times a year.

First Published: Mar 19, 2006 01:44 IST