United States Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Friday expressed his gratitude to the people of Arunachal Pradesh for their “hospitality” during the three-day Tawang festival that began on Friday. Verma posted a photograph with Arunachal CM Pema Khandu and Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal on Twitter. He also wrote, “Stunning mountains & wonderful people. Terrific visit to #ArunachalPradesh for the #TawangFestival. Thank you Tawang for the hospitality.”
Tawang, which is CM Khandu’s hometown, is situated at 3,000 metres above sea level in the Eastern Himalayas, right on the China border. There have been multiple disputes between India and China over the eastern section of the boundary. Earlier in May, Craig L Hall, US Consul General in Kolkata had said that the US considers Arunachal Pradesh an integral part of India countering China’s claims that the Indian state is a part of southern Tibet.
The Chinese foreign ministry had strongly reacted to the statement saying, “China and India are wise and capable enough to deal with their own issue and safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests of the two peoples. The intervention of any third party will only complicate the issue and is highly irresponsible.” According to reports, Khandu also announced that Dalai Lama would visit the state in March next year. In 2009, when the Tibetan spiritual head had given his consent to visit Arunachal, China had raised strong objections to it.
— Pema Khandu (@CMPemaKhandu) October 21, 2016
In one way, Verma’s visit to Tawang could be as a tourist. Or it can even be seen as an effort to show that the US backs India’s assertion. Indian political leaders used social media to share pictures from the Tawang festival subtly conveying their own message to the neighbouring country. CM Sonowal shared pictures of the festival on Twitter adding that Tawang symbolised the “tremendous potentialities of #NorthEast India.” He also said that he had a brief meeting with the US envoy over breakfast. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju is also expected to join the Tawang Festival on Saturday. Rijiju had earlier said that “Himalaya is the crown of India & Tawang is the jewel in the crown.”
CM Khandu also shared photographs from his visit at the Tawang War Memorial. Paying homage to “martyred jawans in 1962 Indo-China conflict” he said, “Civilian-Army relation in Tawang has always been harmonious.” Khandu also posted updates of inauguration of schools and upgradation of the district hospital. He also thanked the US envoy for making the festival “a global event.”
“America makes it’s presence in Tawang festival. Thank u Mr Richard Verma for making the festival a global event by ur presence,” Khandu tweeted.