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China distances itself from envoy’s comment on India-China-Pakistan trilateral summit

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, when asked about envoyLuo Zhaohui’s comments, said both India and Pakistan are China’s friends and neighbours.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2018 00:09 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
India China Pakistan,India China Pakistan trilateral summit,Chinese envoy to India
The Indian national flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem outside the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing. (AP File Photo)

China on Wednesday appeared non-committal on a proposal floated by its envoy in India for a trilateral summit of Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, saying India and Pakistan should strengthen bilateral dialogue to resolve disputes.

Luo Zhaohui, Beijing’s ambassador to New Delhi, created a flutter on Monday by suggesting that India, China and Pakistan could hold a summit on the sidelines of the SCO. The proposal was shot down by the external affairs ministry, which said there was no role for any third country in India-Pakistan relations.

Both India and Pakistan are China’s friends and neighbours, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said when he was asked about Luo’s remarks at a regular news briefing.

“We are willing to conduct relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan and India, to strengthen our cooperation for better development and stability in this region,” he said.

“We also hope India (and) Pakistan can strengthen their dialogue to improve mutual trust in their bilateral relations. This is in the interest of the regional countries,” Geng added.

“What I said represents the official position of the Chinese side,” he said when he was asked whether Beijing is distancing itself from Luo’s comments.

India and Pakistan are the newest members of SCO and they participated in the summit held in the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao.

Addressing a seminar on China-India ties in the wake of the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, Luo said “some Indian friends” had suggested India, China and Pakistan could cooperate by holding a summit on the margins of SCO. He called it a “very constructive idea”.

Luo, who earlier served as the envoy to Pakistan, also said China-India bilateral ties can’t take the strain of another military standoff like the one at Doklam last year. He emphasised the need to find a “mutually acceptable solution” to the boundary issue through the Special Representatives mechanism.

In May 2017, just before the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Summit in Beijing that India declined to participate in, Lou said at an event in New Delhi that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could be renamed to accommodate India’s concerns. Luo’s comments on the issue were subsequently removed from the transcript of his speech posted on the Chinese embassy’s website.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 15:17 IST