China mum on nuke deal
New Delhi, November 21
The fact that the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, currently at a very advanced stage of the US legislative process, is still continuing to rankle the Chinese leadership was apparent, as Beijing did not give any commitment of its support at the NSG. The 45-member apex international nuclear watchdog body works by consensus and if even one member is not agreeable to a proposal, the move gets blocked.
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held 100-minute-long talks with visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao at Hyderabad House here, the boundary dispute was not discussed in an in-depth manner. Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon went on record saying that the two sides made “useful exchanges" on the boundary question and the two countries’ Special Representatives on the issue were asked to expedite the job “as it is the strategic goal of this relationship”.
The two leaders held an hour-long restricted format talks with aides and 40-minute delegation-level talks. Significantly, the hour-long restricted format talks also included 10-minute one-to-one talks without the aides, India’s new Ambassador in China, Ms Nirupama Rao, told this correspondent.
Knowledgeable quarters surmise that during the 10-minute one-to-one talks without aides, issues like the boundary dispute, the Chinese support for the Indo-US deal at the NSG and Pakistan’s continued support to terrorism must have come up. President Hu will be in Islamabad on November 23 for an official bilateral visit.
A key source and a formidable China hand told this correspondent that there was nothing in today’s talks “to make a cartwheel about it”. There was no headway on the core issue of boundary dispute and the Chinese showed their displeasure with India in view of the steadily growing Indo-US strategic partnership by not discussing the border issue. He said the talks were “pleasant, but not warm; balanced, without acrimony, but subdued.”
On the rosy side of the picture, as many as 13 bilateral agreements were signed between the two Asian giants, who together constitute one-thirds of the world’s population. The agreements included setting up of more consulates, as reported by “The Tribune” today - the Chinese consulate in Kolkata and the Indian consulate in Guangzhou.
The two sides also decided to give a quantum push to their already very impressive bilateral trade and double it to $ 40 billion by 2010.
Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon waxed eloquent on the bright side of today’s talks and said at his briefing that the Chinese side assured the Indians that Beijing “will not be an obstacle” to India’s aspirations for permanent membership of the UNSC.
Besides, Mr Menon said, the two sides agreed that the boundary question would not be holding up other bilateral comprehensive engagements. Asked if the two leaders gave political push to the expedite the border talks, the Foreign Secretary said “the political push is clear” and clearly stated in the Joint Declaration.
Mr Menon said there was an understanding by the two sides that Sindo-Indian relationship was no longer bilateral but had regional and international ramifications too. In this context, the two sides also discussed the India-China-Russia trilateral relationship.