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DHARMSALA, India – The Dalai Lama is going ahead with a scheduled visit to India’s remote northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh next month, ignoring protests by China, which claims the region as its territory, a spokesman said Thursday.
The Tibetan spiritual leader will visit the Tawang Buddhist monastery in the state bordering China on Nov. 8, said Phuptel Samphel, a spokesman of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Beijing on Tuesday protested the upcoming trip.
“We are resolutely against Dalai’s visit,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters. “We think that has further exposed the anti-China and separatist nature of the Dalai clique.”
China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for Tibet, but the Nobel Peace Prize laureate says he only wants autonomy for the Himalayan region to practice its Buddhist culture.
India’s Foreign Ministry responded to China’s complaint by saying the Dalai Lama was free to travel anywhere within India, where he has lived along with a government-in-exile since fleeing Tibet following a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
China has never recognized a British colonial-era border known as the McMahon Line that designated the northeastern Arunachal Pradesh region as part of India. China also occupies a chunk of territory in Kashmir that India regards as its own.
China last week also protested a visit to Arunachal Pradesh by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Ties between India and China have improved vastly since a brief border war in the region in 1962, but they remain divided over territorial claims dating back to the conflict. In recent years, the two Asian giants have held 13 rounds of talks on settling their border dispute but have made little progress.
The Dalai Lama will spend four days in Arunachal Pradesh praying and meeting with followers and will visit the monastery town of Bomdila and the state capital, Itanagar, Samphel said.
Associated Press Writer Gillian Wong in Beijing contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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