KATHMANDU, Nov 11: Even as former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and his aides have continued to dismiss media reports that he met head of the Tibetan government in exile Lobsang Sangay at a conference in Goa, India, many photos that came out in public on Thursday show him sitting next to Sangay.
The photos retrieved from the official photographer of the India Foundation, which organised the Goa conference, and made public by fact-checking website South Asia Check, show Deuba sitting next to Sangay, prime minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile, at the conference where the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama delivered a video message.
The photos become public within 24 hours after Deuba, who is also president of the Nepali Congress (NC), vehemently denied meeting or sharing the stage with any Tibetan leader in Goa during the conference organized last week.
Upon his arrival back at Tribhuvan International Airport from India Wednesday, Deuba termed the media reports baseless. As the Chinese have registered a strong objection over participation in the conference by the top leader of the ruling party, Minister for Foreign Minister Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat also defended Deuba, saying the latter neither held any meeting with representatives of the Dalai Lama nor shared the dais with any such representatives.
Deuba was among the key speakers in the conference inaugurated with a keynote speech from the Dalai Lama via video message, according to the organizers.
Talking to Republica, Foreign Minister Mahat dismissed the photos showing Deuba sitting next to Lobsang Sangay at the conference. "First, the photo that has come out in public is not that of the dais but of the audience participating in the conference," he said, adding,"Deubaji does not even know the person sitting next to him." "We do not even know if the photo is genuine, as this kind of photo could be produced through photoshop."
Mahat belongs to the party headed by Deuba.
Meanwhile, two separate Chinese delegations visiting Kathmandu recently returned home after the government declined to meet with them, citing various reasons.
A six-member Chinese delegation led by Public Security Affairs chief of Qinghai Province, Wang Zhongsing, returned home after Home Ministry officials declined to meet them. Sources said the delegation arrived in Kathmandu on October 31 on a four-day visit at the invitation of the Nepal government.
Sources said the Home Ministry turned down a request for a meeting with ministry officials forwarded through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Home Ministry spokesperson expressed ignorance about any visit by such a delegation. "We do not have any information but I think the Foreign Ministry must have been aware about the visit," spokesperson Bal Krishna Panthi told Republica.
However, Foreign Minister Mahat defended the government's decision to deny the Chinese an appointment. "It is not possible to get appointments with all the persons one seeks to meet. Appoinments are possible only if the persons they want to meet have the time. The Chinese delegation was allowed to meet persons related to issues they were invited for. It should not be understood as humiliation just because they were denied an appointment due to lack of time, as they came here in one context and sought an appointment in another context," the minister said.
Government sources said another Chinese delegation visiting Kathmandu was similarly denied a meeting by the current government recently.
A high-level Chinese delegation led by Chinese Industry and Commerce Minister Chang Mao had sought a meeting with Commerce Minister Romi Gauchan Thakali on October 18. The Chinese delegation returned home without being able to meet Thakali.