India and China on Sunday discussed the possibility of working in collaborative projects in third countries, including joint initiatives in Afghanistan to tap large mineral resources, as part of efforts to broad base their relationship.
National Security Adviser (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon, who arrived here yesterday on a four-day visit as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy began his high-level engagements by holding talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Sunday.
After one and half hour talks at the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, Yang accompanied by Menon told the Indian media that "talks went off very very well... we have a tour of the whole horizon" of issues.
A significant part of the discussions between Menon and Yang reportedly centred on economic issues and the booming trade between the two countries that is expected to touch a new of high of USD 60 billion this year.
Apparently issues relating to Pakistan and the visit of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to China beginning from July 6 reportedly to firm up cooperation to build two nuclear power plants figured in the talks.
"We also went to specifics about certain aspects of our relationship," Yang said without directly referring to Pakistan and India's concerns to the two nuclear reactors.
These issues were expected to figure in Menon's scheduled talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and State Councillor Dai Bingguo tomorrow.
India has expressed reservations over China's proposed nuclear deal with Pakistan under which it will provide two nuclear reactors to Pakistan.
"We talked a lot about high level exchanges and visits and (steps) to further boost trade volume to create even better conditions for mutual investment, cooperation and even talked about the possibility of cooperation on certain subjects in other countries and let us have three or four party collaborative projects in the economic field as well," he said.
Yang's reference to projects in third country was interesting as the two sides apparently discussed collaborative projects including in Afghanistan where they want to tap trillions of dollars worth mineral resources jointly with other countries.
Recent reports said huge deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium were large enough to transform Afghanistan into one of the most important mining centres in the world.
India, China, United States and a vast number of European countries which are present in Afghanistan could work out a joint initiative to tap the resources which could change the face of poverty-stricken Afghanistan reeling under a Taliban insurgency.