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India minister's China visit cancelled over Tibet row: report
AFP[Friday, March 28, 2008 13:58]

NEW DELHI — India's trade minister has cancelled a visit to Beijing after China's early morning summons of the Indian envoy over Tibetan protests here, reports said Thursday.

Kamal Nath was due to travel to Beijing on April 1 to take part in discussions on a trade agreement between the two Asian giants but cancelled the trip at the last minute, the Times of India newspaper said.

The daily said New Delhi called off Nath's trip to protest the Chinese foreign ministry's summoning of India's ambassador to Beijing early Saturday over Tibetan protests in India.

China's foreign ministry called Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao at 2.00 am and handed over details of plans of more Tibetan demonstrations in India, after protesters broke into the Chinese embassy compound in New Delhi last Friday.

The Indian government found China's action objectionable, the newspaper reported.

Nath, however, said the cancellation had nothing to do with Tibet protests.

"My trip has been cancelled because of problems in dates," Kamal Nath told reporters, adding the two sides were trying to reschedule the trip.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is currently in New Delhi, on Thursday described the Indian government's policy on China as "over-cautious".

"I think the (Indian) government expressed some concern, like some other governments," he told reporters. "Then how much can a government do? We have to rethink how much can government do," he added.

India has limited its response to the Chinese crackdown in Tibet as "distressing" but it has urged the Dalai Lama not to use Indian soil as a springboard for anti-Beijing activity.

On Wednesday, India assured China that it would provide security for the Olympic torch when it arrives here on April 17 in the lead up to the summer Games in Beijing.

The pledge came after anti-Chinese protesters disrupted the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony on Monday at Ancient Olympia, Greece.

"India will ensure proper security for the Olympic torch during its relay here," National Security Adviser M. K. Narayanan told reporters after China expressed concern over its safety in India.

A few days before the Tibetans stormed the Chinese embassy, China's premier Wen Jiabao thanked Indian authorities for cracking down on protests on Indian soil.

"The Tibetan issue is a very sensitive one in our relations with India," Wen said last Tuesday.

India since 1959 is home to at least 100,000 Tibetan exiles and refugees, as well as the Dalai Lama.

Indian police earlier this month arrested about 100 Tibetan marchers who were trying to trek from India to their homeland.
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