Nobel to Chinese dissident: Indian envoy awaits Delhi orders

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

NEW DELHI - With China unrelenting on the issue of stapled visas for Indian residents of Jammu and Kashmir, India has decided to attend the ceremony to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in Oslo Friday, but the Indian envoy Wednesday said he is awaiting instructions from New Delhi.

With barely a week to go before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to New Delhi, the Indian government was treading cautiously on the issue but has decided to let its envoy attend the function, as has been the practice in the past, said informed sources.

But there has been no official word from New Delhi on the issue so far.

“We are still awaiting instructions from Delhi. Nothing has been conveyed as yet,” India’s ambassador to Norway Banbit Roy told IANS over the phone from Oslo a couple of days before the Friday ceremony.

An official of the Nobel Committee in Norway, however, said Tuesday that the Indian ambassador will be present at the ceremony.

India is understood to have decided to ignore China’s call for boycott of the function as it did not want to be seen to be appeasing Beijing on the issue of human rights and democracy.

Beijing’s practice of giving stapled visas to Indian citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, which is still going on despite New Delhi’s repeated objections, has also been a factor in its decision, said sources.

China has warned there will be economic “consequences” for those countries which do send a representative to the ceremony.

The Nobel award ceremony for the Chinese dissident takes place five days before the Chinese premier comes to India on a three-day visit.

India is among 44 countries which has confirmed its participation, said Nobel Committee secretary Torill Johansen.

Nineteen countries, including Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Columbia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam and Afghanistan, have declined the invitation.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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