BEIJING: India on Thursday said it has a consistent policy to treat Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama as an honoured guest and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday greetings to him should be seen from the overall context.
The comments by External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came when asked about China’s reaction to Modi’s phone conversation with the Dalai Lama.
In the phone conversation, Modi extended birthday greetings to the Dalai Lama on Wednesday.
“The prime minister did speak to the Dalai Lama last year also. It has been a consistent policy of the government to treat the Dalai Lama as an honoured guest in India,” Bagchi said.
He said the Dalai Lama’s birthday is celebrated in India and abroad by his followers.
“Birthday greetings by the prime minister to the Dalai Lama should be seen in the overall context,” Bagchi said.
China on Thursday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for greeting the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on his 87th birthday, saying India should stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
Modi greeted the Dalai Lama over the phone as he turned 87 on Wednesday. “Conveyed 87th birthday greetings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama over the phone earlier today. We pray for his long life and good health,” Modi tweeted on Wednesday.
The prime minister wished him on his birthday last year as well. The Dalai Lama’s supporters celebrated his birthday at Dharamshala where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.
Reacting to a question on Modi’s greetings, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing that “the Indian side should fully recognise the anti-China separatist nature of the 14th Dalai Lama.”
It should abide by its “commitment to China, speak and act prudently and stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Zhao said.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reacted to China’s statements by saying that birthday greetings to the Dalai Lama have been a consistent policy of the government to treat the Dalai Lama as an honoured guest in India.
Birthday greetings by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Dalai Lama should be seen in the overall context. Dalai Lama’s birthday is celebrated by his followers in India and abroad, the MEA added.