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Mukherjee may seek China's help for N-deal

China, a member of the 44-nation NSG, had critically questioned US efforts to push through the civilian nuclear accord.

india Updated: May 26, 2006 19:56 IST

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is poised to embark on a major visit to China, may seek Beijing's support for the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal and sign key confidence building measures to ensure continued peace and tranquility along the Sino-India border.

Mukherjee, who is currently in Japan, will arrive in Beijing on Sunday for his maiden official visit, and is expected to seek Chinese support for the Indo-US nuclear agreement at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), sources said.

China, a member of the 44-nation NSG, had critically questioned US efforts to push through the civilian nuclear accord at the last meeting of the NSG in Vienna.

China's support to the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement is essential as there should be 'consensus' within the NSG members to amend its rules to pave the way for the implementation of the deal, analysts said.

Mukherjee, who will call on top Chinese leadership, is expected to address their concern that the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement is aimed at "containing" China's rise as a major power.

Mukherjee's visit is a major highlight of the joint activities undertaken by the Indian and Chinese governments to mark 2006 as the 'Year of India-China Friendship'.

The Defence Minister will have official talks with his Chinese counterpart General Cao Gangchuan during which the entire gamut of bilateral relations will be discussed, official sources said.

The visit will be an important milestone and a major Confidence Building Measure (CBM) in the progressive ties between India and China, they said.

The vexed India-China boundary issue may also figure during the talks. The Special Representatives of India and China on the border issue have met seven times and positive progress has been made, sources said.

The discussions are expected to cover India's desire to broaden and deepen defence and military exchanges with China to enhance mutual trust and understanding between the two armed forces and to maintain peace and tranquility in the region and the world at large.

During the visit, India and China are expected to conclude a Memorandum of Understanding to institutionalise training and exercise exchanges and other contacts between the Armed Forces and defence officials and experts of the two countries.

The MoU is expected to serve as an instrument for a regular and sustained dialogue on defence and national defence issues between the two countries. So far, Indian and Chinese navies have exchanged friendly port calls and conducted search and rescue exercises.

While the air force of India and China have not had any major interaction, the army has had regular exchanges, including joint sporting and mountaineering activities to boost mutual trust and understanding.

Mukherjee will also visit some of the Chinese People's Liberation Army's key military institutions and installations in Beijing, Lanzhou in central China and the eastern metropolis, Shanghai.

First Published: May 26, 2006 19:56 IST