NEW DELHI – Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to meet the Dalai Lama during a 2014 visit to India but a “cautious” New Delhi did not allow it to happen, a new book has claimed.
The 83-year-old Buddhist monk has made India his home since fleeing the Tibetan capital Lhasa in 1959 — and has been a thorn in Beijing’s side ever since.
“In 2014, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Modi, I requested a meeting with him,” author Sonia Singh quotes the Dalai Lama as saying.
“President Xi Jinping agreed, but the Indian government was cautious about the meeting, so it didn’t happen,” according to excerpts from the book published last Wednesday.
In the book “Defining India — Through Their Eyes,” Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was concerned about maintaining good relations with China.
The Dalai Lama’s personal spokesman Tenzin Taklha said he didn’t have any comments to make, without either confirming or denying the contents in the book.
The Dalai Lama set up a government-in-exile in Dharamsala in northern India and launched a campaign to reclaim Tibet that gradually evolved into an appeal for greater autonomy — the so-called middle way approach.
India, which gave him asylum in 1959, has supported the Tibetan leader but of late the government has maintained a distance, citing diplomatic sensitivities.
Singh, the editorial director of NDTV news channel, says the meeting had the “promise to change the course of China-Tibet relations” if it had been allowed to happen.
The Dalai Lama is also quoted as saying he had “very good relations” with Modi, who is seeking a second term in the ongoing general election.
“He is quite an active Indian prime minister, continuously visiting many countries. That, I admire at his age.”
A global symbol of peace, the Dalai Lama was briefly hospitalized for a chest infection in New Delhi last month.
The book was released Monday.