Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (centre) leaves the Tsuglakhang temple in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, India, May 5 2019. Picture: LOBSANG WANGYAL/AFP
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama (centre) leaves the Tsuglakhang temple in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, India, May 5 2019. Picture: LOBSANG WANGYAL/AFP

New Delhi — Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to meet the Dalai Lama during a 2014 visit to India but a “cautious” 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 [Narendra] 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 on Wednesday.

Good relations paramount

In the book, Defining India — Through Their Eyes, Singh said Modi’s government was concerned about maintaining good relations with China.

The Dalai Lama’s spokesperson Tenzin Taklha said he did not 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 hospitalised for a chest infection in Delhi in April.

The book is set to be released on May 20.

AFP