Indian ambassador makes visit to Tibet for first time in 10 years

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times-Agencies Published: 2012-7-3 0:30:00

The India ambassador to China, S Jaishankar, has gone on a rare visit to Tibet at the invitation of China, where he is touring Mount Kailash and Manasarovar — two religious centers frequented by Indian pilgrims, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported Sunday.

The visit was the first of its kind by a top Indian diplomat in a decade, after the 2002 visit of Shivshankar Menon, the then Indian ambassador and present National Security Advisor, which has significant political significance, according to PTI.

Madhav Nalapat, director and professor of the School of Geopolitics at Manipal University in India, believes the Chinese authorities' decision to invite Jaishankar to Tibet indicates the genuine desire of Beijing to follow the friendly policy of Deng Xiaoping toward India.

"Deng's decision during the 1980s to allow Indian pilgrims to visit Kailash and Manasarovar helped very much in getting over the negative mindset created by the 1962 war," he said.

During his visit in Manasarovar, Jaishankar noted that officials in Tibet were very positive about improving facilities like transport, accommodation and food for the Indian pilgrims.

Indian pilgrims visit Tibet's holy places in groups and their numbers are steadily going up. Indian media said China was keen to make it easier and more comfortable for the Indian pilgrims due to the improved relations between the two countries.

"Because of the strong influence of religion in daily life in India, the improvement of facilities for Hindu pilgrims in China will definitely create a more friendly environment in India toward China, as better facilities for Chinese Buddhists in India would improve Chinese feeling for India," Nalapat said.

Besides the pilgrimage centers, Jaishankar will also visit other areas of Tibet, along with neighboring prefectures.

Wang Dehua, director of the Institute of South Asia and Central Asia Studies at the Shanghai Municipal Center for International Studies, who met Jaishankar last month, believes that the ambassador's visit will promote cooperation between the two countries.

Agencies contributed to this story

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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