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Khurshid to visit China on May 9, no date for flag meet

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid said today he would visit China on May 9 amid high tensions between the neighbours due to a flare-up at their disputed border. Crossing boundaries

delhi Updated: Apr 25, 2013 15:48 IST
chinese incursion,india china border row,salman khurshid

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid said Thursday he would visit China on May 9 amid high tensions between the neighbours due to a flare-up at their disputed border.

"I believe we have a mutual interest and we should not destroy years of contribution we have put together," he told reporters on the sidelines of a business event.

"I think it is a good thing that we are having a dialogue."

It was unclear if the trip was part of scheduled preparations for a visit by the newly installed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India next month, but it comes at a time of rising friction between the neighbours.

In a bid to end the deadlock diplomatically and get Chinese premier Li Keqiang to visit India, Khurshid will make a preparatory visit to Beijing next month.

India has requested for a third flag meeting, the date of which would be communicated by Beijing earliest by Thursday.

The minister also expressed confidence that India and China will be able to resolve the situation arising after the incursion in Indian territory by Chinese forces.

Noting that there was a working mechanism between the two countries to deal with such issues, Khurshid said that "Let us allow that mechanism to find its solution and repeatedly it has found. And we have good reasons to believe that it should be able to do it again."

Earlier during his speech at FICCI, Khurshid said "disagreement" on any issue is not "betrayal".

"People ask me what is wrong with India that all its neighbours are not its friends, what is wrong with India? And I tell them, you have an idea of friendship which is different from mine. My idea of friendship is when you are frank, free with each other, you have expectations and you deliver.

"You agree and you disagree, but you have constant faith that a disagreement is not betrayal. A disagreement is like two intelligent people working out life plans and not necessarily kicking the heels saying one is right and one is wrong," he said.

Earlier this week, India had asked China to revert back to the status quo position in Depsang Valley in Ladakh.

Khurshid also said that these things happen because there is variance of perception between the two countries as there is no demarcation of the Line of Actual Control.

Terming predictions of doomsday following the current standoff in India-China relations as absurd, Khurshid said, "Somebody asked me is the standoff with China going to dilute your friendship, will it derail your relationship with China, will it mean you will not visit China, will it mean the premier of China will not visit India?"

"Doomsday predictions are absolutely absurd. It's absurd not so much for China as it's absurd for us. Our duty is to serve India, not to serve China. Chinese foreign minister's duty is to serve China and I believe that we have a mutual interest but our concern is our interest and our interest is part of a mutual interest and that is what is very fortunate for us," he said.

The minster underlined the fact that years of friendship should not be destroyed by "some little" thing going wrong.

"We shouldn't destroy years of investment, years of contribution that we have made to this relationship because somewhere some little thing goes wrong. One little spot is acne which cannot force you to say that this is not a beautiful face.

"...That acne can be addressed by simply applying an ointment," he said, adding this should not be considered as a surrender or admission of defeat.

"Ointment is part of the process of growing up just as acne is part of the process of growing up. And the relations between India and China is a relationship which is growing up. We had started off as children who fought over something they needed, demanded or believe were their's. They have grown up into two beautiful adults who can talk about these things and who can find a solution," he said.

Asked whether the current standoff will impact trade relations between the two countries, Khurshid said, "If your relationships deteriorate then your trade will get affected, so that is why we don't want the relations to deteriorate when there are no reasons for relations to get deteriorated."

A Chinese helicopter on Wednesday brazenly flew over an Indian military base in Ladakh’s Chumar area, worsening the border impasse.

This comes a day after the failed flag meeting in which the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officers hinted to their Indian counterparts that the current face-off at Ladakh’s Depsang Plains could be resolved if road construction and military activity in Chumar was stopped.

Chumar, close to the Himachal Pradesh border, is a day's mountainous drive from Depsang.

It is evident from the two flag meetings that PLA is totally opposed to India beefing up its defences along the Line of Actual Control.

Top government sources said that face-off between Indian and Chinese troops entered the 10th day with both sides pitching tents only in the night to take shelter from the elements.

On Wednesday morning, a PLA helicopter conducted reconnaissance between the old and new patrol bases in the Chumar sector as well as the track junction area between Chushul and Demchok.

Incidentally, it is at Demchok that the Chinese have built a huge observation post to monitor the Indian Army's activities.

Sources said in the first flag meeting on April 18, the PLA said they had established a new post, way inside perceived Indian territory in Depsang plain as they could not monitor increased Indian military activity in the Daulet Beg Oldi sector.

This was in spite of the fact that the Indian Army had constructed no new local post. It had just added to its defensive capability in its battalion headquarters.

The PLA also raked up the issue of Indian Army bunkers at Fukche, beyond Chushul, only to be told that the work had already been halted.

In the flag meeting on Tuesday, the PLA representative raised the issue about construction in Chumar and, in Indian assessment, indicated that a stop to activity in this contested area would end the face-off.

Chumar has been always disputed by the PLA and was a site of a face-off at Old Patrol Base in 2008 and another last year.

China had opposed road construction by Ladakh Autonomous Hill Council in Chumar as a result of which the project is going at a snail's pace.

(With AFP and PTI inputs)

First Published: Apr 25, 2013 10:50 IST