CHINESE PRESIDENT Hu Jintao on Wednesday appeared eager to resolve the decades-old border dispute between his country and India to enable both countries to enhance mutual trust and raise their strategic partnership to new heights.
“India and China should step up friendly consultations and work for an early settlement of the boundary issue," Hu said, delivering a lecture at Vigyan Bhavan -- his last official engagement in Delhi. He left for Agra thereafter.
Hu said the improvement of Sino-Indian relations has increased the possibility of an early settlement of the boundary issue, which is a "strategic goal" of both countries. He added that the settlement of the boundary issue would contribute to peace and stability in the region and China was ready to work with India to "actively seek a fair, just and mutually-acceptable solution through friendly consultation on an equal footing”.
An early settlement to the border issue represents a “shared wish of the people of the two countries”, Hu said. "We hope to turn the China-India boundary into a bond of good neighbourliness and mutually-beneficial cooperation."
Senior Indian officials said there appeared an element of urgency among the Chinese this time to resolve the border issue. In contrast, New Delhi seems to believe that the matter will take time to resolve.
The officials said last week’s comments by Sun Yuxi, China's envoy to India, in which he claimed all of Arunachal Pradesh as being part of China, followed by Hu’s emphasis on an early resolution of the border dispute showed China wanted the issue to be discussed. "For the first time, India is not on the back foot," a senior official said.
Hu's remarks came a day after his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during which they decided to accelerate efforts to resolve the border issue. In the joint declaration issued on Tuesday, the two countries had said, "An early settlement of the boundary question will advance the basic interests of the two countries and shall, therefore, be pursued as a strategic objective."
In his lecture, Hu also sought to place on record China's gradual tilt towards neutrality in relations between India and Pakistan, saying his country had no "selfish interests" in South Asia. China, which has acquired observer status at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), seeks a peaceful and prosperous South Asia, he said. It has openly admitted to its all-weather friendship with Pakistan, but Hu sought to delink his country's relations with Islamabad from those with New Delhi.
Appreciating the improving India -Pakistan relationship, Hu said his country sought to play a "constructive role" for peace and development in the sub-continent.
He also wanted a higher level of trust, greater consultations and communication between India and China on international affairs, to fulfil their common vision of a "fairer and equitable" world.
Underlining that the destinies of India and China and their people are "once again closely bonded together", he said, "The course we chart and the pace of our development have major implications for peace and development of Asia and beyond." firstname.lastname@example.org