The central government has approved the proposed visit of Tibet's exiled leader Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh in March 2017, The Hindu reported. An official at the Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s office told the newspaper that the invitation for the fortnight-long visit was extended on October 9.

The newspaper report said there was no religious occasion for Dalai Lama’s visit. The trip was planned because the spiritual leader had a strong connection with the state, especially Tawang. He came to India from China through the mountain route of Tawang in 1959.

The development comes only days after China criticised US envoy Robert Verma's visit to the “disputed region" on October 21. Delhi dismissed Beijing's concerns, and said there was nothing unusual about the accredited ambassador's visit to the state, which is an "integral part" of India. After the visit, the chief minister put out a message on social media, and said, “America makes its presence in Tawang festival. Thank you Richard Verma for making the festival a global event by your presence.”

The India-China border has been a matter of dispute as China lays claim to parts of Arunachal Pradesh, and both countries have varying versions of the Line of Actual Control separating them.