India comfortable with China ties: Menon

Hindustan Times | ByAmit Baruah, N Delhi
Jan 12, 2008 09:35 AM IST

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon says India is "comfortable" with its China relationship, reports Amit Baruah.

India is "comfortable" with its China relationship, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said on Friday when asked if New Delhi was worried that Beijing could now speedily move troops into Tibet.

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"You have to accept that the world keeps changing," Menon, who has worked as ambassador to China, stated philosophically, a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves New Delhi for Beijing.

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In reply to another question about Chinese "incursions" into Indian territory the foreign secretary stated that the two countries had "worked together" to maintain peace and stability in the border areas. "We don't see a change in that," Menon told presspersons.

"The border is peaceful and has remained peaceful," Menon stressed, pointing out that over the past several decades the two countries had been able to maintain peace and stability in the border areas.

"Our treaty obligation (under a 1993 agreement) is to maintain status quo," the foreign secretary said even as both sides made efforts to reach a negotiated settlement on the divisive border issue.

According to him, India and China had been "very successful" in maintaining peace and security in the border areas and had effective mechanisms to deal with situations in places where there were overlapping claims.

Menon said that MK Narayanan and Dai Bingguo, special representatives tasked to deal with the border question, had had several rounds of discussions on a framework to resolve the dispute.

The foreign secretary said the special representatives would meet during the prime minister's visit to China, but needed more time to arrive at a framework agreement on the border.

"I don't have that sense," Menon shot back when asked at the press conference whether China was moving away from an April 2005 agreement on guiding principles and parameters to resolve the border dispute.

The foreign secretary said that India was trying to increase the list of items it exported to China in an effort to bridge the trade deficit, which now favoured Beijing. "We would like to diversify our exports."

Menon was categorical that India would like to engage China in the field of civil nuclear cooperation once "the way was clear", a reference to removing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) hurdle. The issue of civil nuclear cooperation would be raised again during the prime minister's visit, he remarked, but added that the stage had not yet been reached where India could ask its friends to support its case at the NSG.

Other issues like energy security, climate change, regional and global issues that concerned both India and China would come up during the prime minister's discussions in Beijing.

On climate change, the foreign secretary said there were many elements on congruence in the Indian and Chinese positions though India had lower emissions of greenhouse gases.

Both India and China supported the Bali roadmap and had "very similar approaches" to the issue of climate change in international forums, he stressed.

Singh would be the fifth Indian prime minister to visit China after Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narsaimha Rao and Atal Behari Vajpayee.

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