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Sikkim is part of India, says Wen
India, China thrash out framework for settling border dispute
T.R. Ramachandran

Tribune News Service

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday.
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, April 11
Describing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit as “historic and outstanding,” India and China agreed today to upgrade their relationship to a “strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity” coupled with thrashing out 11 Articles setting the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for settling the vexed boundary question.

Expressing their political will in settling the boundary issue in a pro-active manner, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Wen had no doubt that it will advance the basic interests of the two countries. It should, therefore, be pursued as a “strategic objective.”

The two sides affirmed their commitment to maintaining peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and enlarged the confidence building measures in the border areas in keeping with the agreements of September 1993 and November 1996.

With Sino-Indian relations having achieved a certain level of maturity, Dr Manmohan Singh and Wen viewed each other as partners and not rivals or adversaries. Mr Wen emphasised that Sikkim is an integral part of India and drew attention to the new map published by his country. “This is no longer an issue in Indo-China relations,” he observed.

Even as the first stage of evolving the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles had been achieved, the boundary issue will now move towards thrashing out the framework before going on to the final and last stage of demarcation and delineation of the boundary on the ground by “safeguarding the interests of the settled populations in the border areas.”

On the border issue, the two sides called for broadening and deepening defence exchanges between the two countries as it was of vital importance in enhancing the mutual trust of the two armed forces. It was also to ensure a peaceful environment in which they could pursue their respective national development objectives.

India reiterated that it recognised Tibet as the territory of China and recalled it was among the first countries to recognise “there is one China and its one China policy remains unaltered.” The Chinese side appreciated the Indian position.

About India’s bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, Mr Wen observed that his country would be happy to see India in the UNSC. He opined there should be greater representation to developing countries and India was the largest in this regard. Senior officials believe this as clear as a political statement can get.

After wide-ranging talks here between Dr Manmohan Singh and Wen and their delegations, a joint statement was issued which noted that India and China relations have entered a new stage of comprehensive development. The process of building trust and understanding has gained momentum. While incremental progress had been made in addressing outstanding issues, the two sides have made satisfying progress in developing their long-term “constructive and cooperative partnership.”

During the Dr Manmohan Singh-Wen talks, the topic of Indo-Pak relations was touched upon briefly and the visiting Premier welcomed the peace process under way. Wen was categoric that “China has no selfish interest to pursue in South Asia.” The issue of arm supplies to Pakistan did not figure in the talks.

On China’s keenness to join Saarc, the two leaders underlined the importance of regional cooperation without going into specifics. There is consensus in Saarc that no ad hoc decision should be taken for providing observer status or allowing partnership to any country desirous of joining the fledgling grouping.

About India’s efforts in joining the Shanghai Economic Organisation, a senior official said this was mentioned in passing in the bilateral discussions. India has applied for observer status.

There was agreement for cooperating in the field of energy security and conservation as well as encouraging relevant departments and units of the two countries to engage in survey and exploration of petroleum and natural gas in developing countries.

Wen desired greater collaborative endeavours in science and technology, including space sciences. During his meeting with President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam in the afternoon, he specially listed IT, biotechnology and nanotechnology where there could be joint projects. He proposed declaring 2006 as the “year of India-China friendship” which won instant support from Dr Manmohan Singh. He stressed India-China friendship will go a long way in the maintenance of peace not only in Asia but also the world over.

The two sides sought all-round expansion of India-China economic cooperation, including trade and investment constituting an important dimension of a stronger bilateral relationship. It was decided to increase the bilateral trade from the present level of $ 14 billion to $ 20 billion or higher by 2008.

The two sides initialled a dozen documents and agreements encompassing a memorandum of understanding for launching an India-China financial dialogue, having a regional trade mechanism compared to a free trade arrangement, an MoU on civil aviation, an MoU on provision of hydrological information of the Sutlej/Langquen Zangbo river in the flood season by China to India, mutual trade assistance and cooperation in customs matters and a memorandum on the construction of an Indian style Buddhist temple in Luoyang, China.


‘Open skies’ policy for cargo
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 11
India and China signed an MoU for major liberalisation of air links between the two countries and an agreement on Mutual Administrative Assistance and Cooperation in customs matters.

The MoU on civil aviation signed by Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad and Director of the Chinese General Administration of Civil Aviation Yang Yuanyuan, seeks to provide multiple designation for carriers and an “Open skies” policy for cargo along with increase in capacity entitlements. It also incorporates more points of call and an increase in the number of intermediary and beyond points.

The designated airlines of both countries are entitled to have unlimited third, fourth and fifth freedom traffic rights with unlimited capacity entitlement for dedicated cargo services.

The MoU on civil aviation provides for simplification of visa procedures for the operating and cabin crew, employment of foreign pilots by designated airlines of either party and use of dry leased aircraft.

The agreement on mutual administrative assistance and cooperation in customs matters between India and China was initialled by External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing.

This seeks to enhance cooperation between the Customs administrations of the two countries with regard to the application and enforcement of customs Laws. The agreement enables administrative assistance for proper application of customs law and prevention, investigation and combating customs offences.


Borders of discontent


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