Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday declared Beijing's support for India's candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations' Security Council for 2011-12. This is expected to lead to China backing India's bid for a permanent seat in SC.
Seen as a breakthrough in India-China relations, Beijing's support for "India's aspiration for a greater, substantial role in the UN" followed a meeting between President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The Great Hall, on the western edge of Tiananmen Square, is China's political hub. It functions as the headquarters of the National People's Congress as well as the parliament of the People's Republic of China.
"Our President specifically raised the (SC) point. China said it understands and supports India's aspiration for greater role in the UN, particularly the SC. And it has sought India's cooperation for reforming and expanding the SC," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said in a briefing.
Expansion of SC means room for India as a permanent member, something New Delhi has been pursuing for years. The shot at the non-permanent seat for 2011-12 has given New Delhi a reason to up the ante.
"Our assessment is that the Chinese leadership was not guarded or diplomatic in supporting India's UN aspiration. They said they were listening very carefully to what we say, and that there was a legitimacy in our bid for permanent seat in the SC," Rao said.
She added Beijing's tone carried the cooperation India and China initiated at the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen and later at the BRIC (Brazil Russia India China caucus). "The undertone is to carry the cooperation to the next climate change conclave in Cancun (Mexico)."
Patil and Jintao "reiterated that the relationship between India and China was a diplomatic priority for both countries". The context of discussions between the two heads of states was "in keeping with" the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Beijing.
Patil did touch up the boundary issue that needles the two countries off and on. Her counterpart agreed both countries needed to maintain peace and tranquility along the border pending settlement of the issues.
The meeting also focused on expanding bilateral trade. Beijing "understood" India's concern over increasing the volume of trade and addressing the adverse balance of trade. Bilateral trade, at present, is loaded heavily in favour of China.
The Patil-Jintao meeting culminated in the signing of an agreement and two MoUs. The agreement was on visa-free access to airlines staff of both countries. The MoUs were on cooperation in public administration and sports including anti-doping.
Earlier, rain saw Patil being given a guard of honour inside the Bei Da Ting (Northern Hall) of the Great Hall of the People. Visiting heads of state are normally welcomed ceremonially on the Dong Guangchang or courtyard facing Tiananmen Square.