India on Thursday said that it has a consistent policy to treat Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as an honoured guest.
The remarks came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned the Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday on July 6. The Prime Minister's move to call the Dalai Lama was seen by many observers in the context of India's rough relationship with China.
Prime Minister Modi last had a public contact with the Dalai Lama in 2015. It is the first time the Prime Minister tweeted his greetings to the spiritual leader.
Reiterating the official position in response to a query, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "It is the consistent policy of the Government of India to treat his holiness Dalai lama as an honoured guest in India and respected religious leader who enjoys a large following in India. His Holiness's birthday is celebrated by many of his followers in India and abroad."
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang also greeted the Dalai Lama on his birthday. Both states have borders with China.