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India rejects Chinese protest at Dalai Lama trip
* India says Dalai Lama free to travel, no political remarks
* Trip to border state disputed between India, China
By Matthias Williams
NEW DELHI, Sept 30 (Reuters) - India's foreign minister said on Wednesday China should not object to the Dalai Lama's planned trip to a northeast Indian state, part of which Beijing claims in a festering border dispute between the two Asian powers.
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, whom the Chinese government reviles as a "splittist", announced a visit to Arunachal Pradesh state for the second week of November, after a controversial stay in self-ruled Taiwan earlier in September.
India and China fought a brief war, partly over Arunachal Pradesh, in 1962. Though bilateral trade is flourishing between the emerging giants, there has been a rise in border tension, and the Dalai Lama's visit could add to the strains.
"The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and can travel wherever he wants within India as long as he does not make political statements," Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna told NDTV news channel.
Arunachal Pradesh was the subject of a row between the world's two most populous nations earlier this year when China objected to a $60 million Asia Development Bank loan for a project in the state.
Indian media have reported numerous incursions by Chinese soldiers along the disputed border.
But Krishna said "there is no increased activity along the LAC with China", referring to the de facto border known as the "Line of Actual Control" -- the 1962 ceasefire line, which both countries dispute.
China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of wanting independence for Tibet, has already spoken out against his trip to Arunachal Pradesh, saying it was further proof of his separatist bent. [ID:nDEL169125]
The Dalai Lama, who denies wanting independence but has for decades called for greater autonomy and cultural and religious freedom for Tibet, has lived in northern India since fleeing Tibet during a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
His aides said the aim of the trip was to teach and had nothing to do with politics.
Earlier in September, the Dalai Lama visited the island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province. China denounced the trip and said it could sabotage fast-improving relations.
For an analysis on India-China ties, click [ID:nPEK367216]
For a factbox on the border dispute, click [ID:nDEL65237] (Editing by Tim Pearce)
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