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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

After Russia visit, PM eyes India-China border pact

Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times  Moscow, October 22, 2013
First Published: 07:32 IST(22/10/2013) | Last Updated: 12:21 IST(22/10/2013)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is leaving for Beijing on Tuesday morning on the second and the challenging part of his two-nation visit to seal a new border management pact and ask China to walk the talk on reducing the burgeoning trade deficit between the two countries.

Singh's visit is counted as historic because this is the first time since 1954 that prime ministers of the two countries would travel to each other's country in the same year.

China has said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's three-day visit from Tuesday is of great importance for deepening strategic partnership amid expectations that the two sides would sign some key pacts, including one to prevent incursions along the LAC.

"It is of great importance to deepen China-India strategic partnership as the visit follows the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India in May," China's foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had announced in Beijing on Monday.

"We attach great importance to the visit and are looking forward to it," Chunying told a media briefing in Beijing on Monday.

In a rare honour, Singh, who is arriving in Beijing on Tuesday night after a visit to Russia, will be hosted by both Premier Li and President Xi Jinping on the same day.

Among the pacts expected to be signed during the visit is the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), the draft of which was cleared by the Union cabinet.

It is perceived as a major confidence-building measure by both countries, which had to grapple this year with a series of Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that triggered serious tensions.

A much awaited agreement on liberalising the visa regime was reportedly dropped as Union's cabinet did not clear it because of reservations over Chinese visa procedures, like issuing stapled visas for residents of Arunachal Pradesh that led to two Indian archers missing a competition in Beijing.

An agreement on establishing Chinese industrial parks in India, expected to bring in investment from China, too is unlikely to be signed as a Chinese team is still scouting sites in India.

Agreements on promoting culture and people-to-people contacts are expected to be signed.

Besides welcoming Singh at the Great Hall of the People overlooking the historic Tiananmen Square, Li will hold talks with him on a host of issues.

Later, they will jointly address business leaders attending the second India-China CEO Forum being held on the sidelines of Singh's visit.


PM's Russia visit

Singh ended his visit to Russia without clinching a deal on getting  reactors for the Kudankulam nuclear project, but he and Russian President Vladimir Putin asked their officials to resolve issues "at the earliest".

Read More: Russia will remain an 'indispensable' partner, says PM

Officials of the two counties were discussing the proposed third and fourth units of the Russian-built plant in Tamil Nadu and they were "down to a word or two". The lawyers are looking at it, said India's Ambassador to Russia Ajay Malhotra. He did not specify how long the two sides had been stuck at this stage.

Read More: Kudankulam pact at final stages

Negotiations have been stuck over provisions under the Civil Liabilities for Nuclear Damage Act that makes the supplier liable in case of a nuclear accident and does not cap this liability. Russia has opposed to the project being put under the ambit of the civil liability law and wants it to be covered under the inter-governmental agreement on the issue.


Putin gifts Singh symbols of India-Russia ties

Putin on Monday surprised Singh by gifting him some pictures and coins that symbolise the bilateral relationship dating back to over 100 years.

In pics: PM's visit to Moscow

Surprising even his own protocol men, Putin gifted Singh a Mughal era coin and an artwork that had a picture of Tsarevich, who later become Nicholas II (the last Emperor of Russia) and the Maharajas of Benares, reflecting the connection of two royalties and an map of India that showed the 30 cities he visited way back in 1891.
 
Another gift was a map of India from the 16th century and coin of the Mughal period.

The Prime Minister replied, "I am touched by your gesture and this reflects our historic and age-old ties."

Read More: I am touched by your gesture: PM to Putin

With inputs from PTI


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