By Shekhar Iyer
New Delhi, November 22 - Leader of Opposition LK Advani urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to allow the exiled Tibetan spiritual head Dalai Lama to visit Tibet to explore the possibility of a dialogue to resolve "the aspirations of the Tibetan people".
To which, Hu told Advani that, for any forward movement on the issue, the Dalai Lama would have to accept publicly that Tibet is an integral part of China.
Advani is the first Indian leader in recent times to raise the issue of the Dalai Lama with the Chinese leader. He raised the issue during his 20-minute meeting with the visiting Chinese leader, pointing to the fact that, for five decades, a large number of Tibetans were living in India as refugees.
Advani said he believed that if the Dalai Lama was allowed to visit Tibet he would talk to his people and see how a dialogue could be started to resolve the issue.
"The Tibetans have their aspirations and the Dalai Lama is considered not just their leader but one of the important spiritual leaders of the world."
Hu, who was a bit surprised that the Leader of Opposition raised the issue, said everyone was aware of the Tibetan issue and the Dalai Lama. But for any forward movement, the Dalai Lama would have to take the first step.
Advani did not make direct reference to the Chinese envoy's remark on Arunachal Pradesh being part of China. But he told Hu that, despite the positive attitude of China and India to resolve the border issue while expanding ties in other areas, "some public statements caused surprise and reaction." Hu did not respond.
Advani said India had been following a similar approach—since the days of the NDA government—of normalising relations with Pakistan while continuing dialogue on contentious issues like Kashmir.
To this, Hu said India and China were trying to boost their economic ties while continuing dialogue over the border issue. He was also aware of steps being taken by India and Pakistan to normalise their ties.
Earlier, Advani had conveyed his intention to raise the issue of the Dalai Lama with the External Affairs Ministry before he called on Hu. He said, as an Opposition leader he was in a position to convey certain things to the visiting head, which the government might not wish to do so at an official level.
Advani was, however, given to understand that, unofficially too, India had sought to impress on China to have a dialogue with the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue.