'Arunachal is integral part of India'

A day after China objected to Defence Minister A.K. Antony's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India Sunday reiterated that the state is its integral part and stressed that any Indian has the right to visit any part of Indian territory.

Objecting to the Indian defence minister's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei Saturday had “asked India to work with China to maintain peace and stability in border areas".  Hong had asserted that China advocated seeking a fair and rational solution through equal and friendly negotiations, adding Bejing's stance on Sino-Indian border issues, including disputes regarding the eastern section, has been consistent and clear-cut.

He also called on India to desist from taking any action that could complicate the issue.
He was reacting to media reports about Indian officials participating in activities organised by the “so-called Arunachal region,”without directly referring to Antony's visit to Arunachal Pradesh Feb 20.  
Government sources in New Delhi reacted sharply, saying that India's position on Arunachal Pradesh is well-know and has been stated many times. 

The sources pointed out that in face of Chinese assertions from time to time, senior Indian leaders have said time and again that Arunchal Pradesh is an integral part of India's territory. 

"We are aware of the challenges which people living in border areas face and it is our collective duty to ensure that our border areas are developed as any other part of the country," Antony had said at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Arunachal Pradesh in its capital Itanagar on Feb 20.

"We are aware of the challenges which people living in border areas face and it is our collective duty to ensure that our border areas are developed as any other part of the country."

"Arunachalees have always been known to be fiercely patriotic and yield to none in their love for the motherland," he had said.

The latest Chinese assertion on Arunachal Pradesh came more than a month after special representatives of India and China held the 15th round of boundary talks here to discuss a framework that can form the basis for resolving their decades-old boundary dispute. 

Beijing's claims on Arunachal Pradesh are part of the boundary negotiations between the two rising Asian powers.   

In the boundary negotiations, China has hardened stance on Arunachal Pradesh, part of its negotiating tactic to extract concessions from India in any final boundary settlement.

Last month, China had denied visa to a senior Indian Air Force officer to visit that country as as part of a defence delegation visiting that country.  This had prompted New Delhi to scale down the size of the delegation. 

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