China protests against PM's Arunachal visit, India retorts

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (UNI) In a delayed reaction, China has protested to India against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh but New Delhi immediately retorted saying the state is an ''integral part of India'' and the Prime Minister could visit any place in the country.

Sources told UNI today that Chinese officials had conveyed the protest to India in Beijing and the Indian position was explained to them.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in Mumbai that India was aware of China's position on Arunachal and even Beijing was aware of New Delhi's stand.

''Arunachal is an integral part of India. We have regular representation in Parliament, elected by people of the state.

The Prime Minister can visit any part of the country,'' Mr Mukherjee said.

Soon after his China visit, Dr Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh on January 31, becoming the first Prime Minister of India to visit the Northeastern state in almost a decade.

''The sun kisses India first in Arunachal Pradesh. It is our land of the rising sun. I sincerely hope that like the sun, Arunachal Pradesh will rise from the East as a new star and become one of the best regions of our country,'' the Prime Minister said at a public meeting there.

The Prime Minister's comments had upset the Chinese.

UNI RB VD HT2102

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