Mongolia hosts Dalai Lama, defying stern opposition from China

Senior Mongolian officials and the Indian ambassador receive Dalai Lama at the airport.

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Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama waves to devotees outside the United Nations where the Human Rights Council is holding its 31st Session in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2016 Reuters

Mongolia scoffed at China's stern opposition and welcomed a visit by the Dalai Lama to the county at the invitation of one of the top monasteries.

The Tibetan spiritual leader arrived in Mongolia for a four-day visit after China warned Mongolia against a visit by the Dalai Lama, who it calls splittist and a political refugee.

The exiled Tibetan leader, whom China accuses of fomenting trouble in the country, arrived from Japan on Friday evening and was welcomed at the airport by senior government officials.

Apart from senior monks of Mongolian monasteries, the ambassador of India, where the Tibetan leader lives in exile, also were present at the airport.

Dalai Lama is scheduled to speak at the Gaden Thekchen Choeling, Mongolia's largest monastery, on Saturday. The Tibetan spiritual leader will also visit the monastery of the Kalkha Jetsun Dampa, the ninth head of Mongolia's Buddhist community, the Radio Free Asia reported.

Earlier, China strongly opposed Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia saying it will affect bilateral ties. "We strongly demand that Mongolia, for the purpose of maintaining the general picture of a sound and steady development of bilateral ties, earnestly stick to its commitment on Tibet-related issues, do not allow the visit by the Dalai Lama and do not provide any form of support and convenience to the group of the Dalai Lama," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Ties with China are crucial for the predominantly Buddhist Mongolia, which is looking up to Beijing for trade and investment. However, the Mongolian leadership, including the president, prime minister and the speaker of parliament said they support the monastery's invitation to the spiritual leader.

China routinely opposes Dalai Lama's visit to any country saying the monk would push anti-China propaganda and a separatist agenda. However, the Dalai Lama has maintained he is looking only for meaningful autonomy for Tibet.