M A I N   N E W S

Pranab welcomes Hu
PM sticks to protocol; border talks not on anvil
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 20
When Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived here this evening on a three-day official visit, the diplomatic symbolism made it clear that it is not going to be a landmark visit as his Premier Wen Jiabao’s was last year.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chose not to break the protocol and receive Mr Hu at the airport. He has done it only twice this year when he went to the airport to receive US President George W Bush and Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud . The Prime Minister sent his External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to receive the Chinese President.

It is understood that New Delhi will attempt to raise the issue of boundary dispute, but signals from Beijing make it clear that the Chinese will not be interested in discussing the issue during the Presidential visit.

This gets corroborated from the fact that Chinese Special Representative on Sino-Indian border dispute and Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo has not accompanied Mr Hu. A senior official said India was trying to arrange a meeting of the Special Representatives (SRs) who are due to hold their next round of talks in Beijing. India had initiated a move to hold a special meeting of the SRs here on November 9-10 ahead of Mr Hu’s India visit. However, India cancelled the initiative in view of lukewarm response from the Chinese.

Officially, New Delhi dubs Mr Hu’s visit as “an important visit that will add substance to our strategic relationship”. At least 10 agreements and MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) will be signed during after Mr Hu’s delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House tomorrow.

An important agreement that is expected to be signed tomorrow is the opening of Chinese Consulate in Kolkata and Indian Consulate in Guangzhou. This will be the second Chinese consulate of China in India and vice versa as China already has a consulate in Mumbai and India has in Shanghai. The Chinese pressed Indians hard on the Kolkata consulate issue. An influential section of the Indian strategic establishment stiffly opposed the Chinese move saying that it would make the entire eastern and north-eastern India vulnerable to Chinese espionage. However, the political leadership appears to have finally overruled these objections.

India will also be taking up with the Chinese leadership the issue of Chinese support for Indo-US nuclear deal at the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, the apex nuclear matters world body of which China is a member. New Delhi has already taken up the matter with Beijing several times but the Chinese have not come out with any commitment.

Mr Hu’s nine-member official delegation includes four ministers - Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Minister of National Development and Reforms Commission Ma Kai, Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and Assistan Minister of Foreign Affairs Cui Tiankai. An interesting sidelight is that the seniormost minister in the official delegation, Mr Li, ranks well beyond 100 in the Chinese hierarchy.

Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal has been nominated as the “Accompanying Minister” for Mr Hu.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |