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Dalai Lama in Tibet border visit

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Thousands of people have turned out to welcome the Dalai Lama as he makes a controversial visit to a monastery close to the Tibetan border.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is in Tawang in India's state of Arunachal Pradesh, itself a source of dispute between Beijing and Delhi.

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of trying to undermine its rule in Tibet and says the visit is anti-China.

The Dalai Lama insists his visit is "non-political".

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 when Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet.

In August this year, the Dalai Lama, 74, made another hugely controversial visit - to Taiwan, another region China considers part of its territory.

'Internal interference'

The freezing temperatures in Tawang did not deter thousands of villagers taking to the streets to catch a glimpse of the Dalai Lama.

Tibetan prayer flags fluttered and monks struck cymbals and played horns as the Dalai Lama headed to the Tibetan monastery, the second largest of its kind in India, to hold a prayer session.

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"We are very pleased and blessed to have his holiness here," one monk, Sarwang Lama, told AFP news agency.

Some pilgrims had walked for as long as five days to be there.

One, Dorji Wangdi, told Associated Press: "If I can just see him once in my lifetime, then I am not afraid to die."

Arunachal Pradesh was the first stop during the Dalai Lama's flight from Tibet in 1959, and he said he felt close ties to the region. This is only his fifth visit in 50 years.

He said Beijing's accusations that his visit was anti-China and damaging to India-China ties were "baseless".

"My visit to Tawang is non-political and aimed at promoting universal brotherhood and nothing else," the Dalai Lama said.

Arunachal Pradesh's Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu said Beijing had "no right to interfere in India's internal matters".

The trip comes just weeks after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh.

China strongly criticised that trip, accusing Mr Singh of ignoring its concerns.



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