HANOI: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh today took up with his Chinese counterpart Mr Wen Jiabao “difficult questions” impacting on Sino-Indian ties and pressed for “sensitivity” to India’s “core issues”.
The tenth meeting between the two leaders in the last six years took place here in the backdrop of irritants resulting from China impliedly questioning the status of Jammu and Kashmir as also by laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh.
After their 45-minute meeting it was announced that Mr Wen would travel to New Delhi in mid-December, his second visit in five years for which groundwork would be done by the India’s National Security Advisor, Mr Shivshankar Menon and a top Chinese official, Mr Dai Bingguo.
It was obvious that the exchanges between the two leaders who met at a Convention Centre where the Asean Summit is being held, were candid. Dr Singh raised “the issue of all difficult questions” and spoke of the need to show “sensitivity to each other’s core issues”, Mr Menon said.
On his part, Mr Wen underlined that for his India visit to be productive, “we discuss and reach consensus on some major aspects so as to lay a foundation for the visit”.
Mr Menon and Mr Dai, who are designated as Special Representatives of the two sides on the boundary question, and other officials have been instructed to “work our way to solutions to all the issues that are difficult in our relationship, including boundary question”.
Days prior to the meeting the Chinese had made it clear that they would not make any change in the policy of not issuing visas to people of J and K on Indian passports and instead give them visas on stapled sheets. This is seen as a Chinese ploy to question the state’s status within India.
Clearly, there was no breakthrough on this issue during the Singh-Wen meeting because Mr Menon stated later that high-level defence exchanges suspended by India in the wake of China refusing a visa to Lt.Gen B S Jamwal, the army commander in J and K, would remain so.
Mr Menon refused to identify what India’s core issues were and confined himself to stating that both countries had indicated these to each other. J and K and Arunachal are regarded as New Delhi’s core issues while Chinese sensitivities on Dalai Lama’s activities in India are well known.
“This is an ongoing conversation. We will continue that discussion as we lead up to Premier Wen’s visit which I am sure will be a successful and productive visit,”
Both Mr Singh and Mr Wen agreed that there was enough space in the world for both the countries to grow and that they should cooperate and collaborate
In his initial remarks at the meeting, Mr Wen referred to Dr Singh’s oft-repeated statement that there is enough space in the world for India and China to achieve common development.
While agreeing with it, the Chinese leader said, “on top of our remarks, I add that there is enough space in the world for India and China to have cooperation.” The two leaders, while going through the entire range of relationship taking the “larger strategic view,” also discussed the economic aspect of the ties in the backdrop of concerns in India over the big trade imbalance in favour of China. Noting that the two countries had “viewed and handled” their bilateral relations with a “strong sense of history,” Mr Wen said India and China have stayed in touch and worked together to build a stable and steady growth in ties.
Dr Singh used the occasion to praise the Chinese leader. “You are the architect of Strategic Cooperative Partnership which both the countries signed during your first visit to India in 2005. Our relations have evolved satisfactorily. We are very satisfied with growth of trade and economic relations between India and China,” he told Mr Wen.
On the boundary dispute, both the leaders said they looked forward to early resolution of the issue and asked their Special Representatives to deal with the subject with a sense of urgency.
The Special Representatives will meet in Beijing by November-end for the 14th round of talks. The last meeting was held in New Delhi in August last year. In the meantime, they agreed that pending the settlement, the two countries will maintain peace and tranquility on the border.