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Nothing unusual in Verma’s Tawang trip: India

Chief Ministers of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh Sarbananda Sonowal (centre) and Pema Khandu (right) with U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma at Tawang last Friday. — Photo: PTI

Chief Ministers of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh Sarbananda Sonowal (centre) and Pema Khandu (right) with U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma at Tawang last Friday. — Photo: PTI  

India on Monday asserted territorial sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, describing it as an “integral” part of the country.

MEA’s comment came after Beijing objected to U.S. ambassador Richard Verma’s weekend trip to Tawang, an administrative district of the province, to attend the annual Tawang festival which attracts visitors from all over the world.

“The U.S. Ambassador visited Arunachal Pradesh, a State that is an integral part of the country to which he is accredited. There is nothing unusual in it,” said Vikas Swarup, MEA spokesperson.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson Lu Kang, while replying to a question, said the place visited by the senior U.S. diplomatic official was a disputed region between China and India. “We are firmly opposed to his visit.”

Arunchal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu had extended a warm welcome to Mr. Verma. “America makes its presence in Tawang festival. Thank you Richard Verma for making the festival a global event by your presence,” he said in a message in the social media.

The annual festival had drawn similar objection from Chinese authorities when the Dalai Lama visited Tawang in 2009 as a special gesture to mark half-century of his exile in India.

“China’s position on the eastern section of the China-India boundary is very clear and consistent. The two countries are now trying to resolve territorial disputes through negotiations and consultations,” Mr. Lu said referring to the Special Representatives mechanism headed by National Security Advisors of both countries.

Both sides held the 19th round of Special Representatives’ talks to resolve the dispute over the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) in April this year.

Mr. Lu said “any third party with a sense of responsibility should respect the efforts made by China and India for peace, reconciliation and tranquillity, rather than the opposite.”

The tough exchange of words began after Mr. Verma took to social media on landing at Tawang, one of the oldest Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the world, and described Tawang as a “terrific” and a “magical place.”

DPAA mission

Interestingly, Mr. Verma’s visit to Tawang came three days after he welcomed Gary Stark, a key official of DPAA (Defence POW Accounting Agency) connected to the recovery of the remains of the American airmen who perished during World War II in the eastern Himalayan region, which falls under Arunachal Pradesh. Under a bilateral agreement, the U.S. has been carrying out evacuation of the physical remains of the fallen U.S. airmen from the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh.

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2020 8:59:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Nothing-unusual-in-Verma%E2%80%99s-Tawang-trip-India/article16080663.ece

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