M A I N   N E W S

PM, Hu cement ties, but mum on Arunachal
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Berlin, June 7
Despite indications of China hardening its position on Arunachal Pradesh over the past few months, the issue did not figure in the interface between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao though the two leaders reviewed the strategic partnership expressing satisfaction with the development of bilateral relations.

Even as Dr Manmohan Singh described China as India’s “greatest neighbour,” Hu emphasised that the Sino-Indian ties had reached the stage of fast track growth.

The Prime Minister observed that “our government and I speak for all the people regardless of their political affiliations and want the strongest relationship with China. China is our greatest neighbour and it will be and it has been a constant endeavour of my government to do everything in our power to cement our relationship”.

The Chinese President commented the Prime Minister’s vision, insight and positive attitude has contributed to the growth of the Sino-Indian bilateral relations and established a better understanding between the two neighbours.

The 10-point strategy for giving an impetus to the strategic partnership was beginning to show encouraging results with bilateral trade growing by 56.8 per cent in the first four months of this year amounting to $11.4 billion. There was discernible optimism that bilateral trade would be doubled to $ 40 billion by 2010.

Authoritative sources did not seem unduly perturbed about the new Chinese foreign minister Yang Jeichi conveying to external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee in Hamburg last week that the mere presence of populated areas would not affect Chinese claims on Arunachal Pradesh. Certain observers viewed the Arunachal Pradesh issue being raised intermittently by China as pressure tactics because of New Delhi’s relations with Washington being taken to a new high.

Sources said there was nothing new in China raising the issue of Arunachal Pradesh time and again. And in any case there was the mechanism of the special representatives of India and China dealing with the vexed border question that had affected the bilateral relations for more than four decades.

Significantly, the special representatives had met twice over the past six months and hoped to evolve a framework for an early settlement of the border question. The representatives were working very hard in this regard.

Foreign secretary told mediapersons this afternoon that even though the border issue figured in the discussions between Dr Manmohan Singh and Hu, Arunachal Pradesh was not brought up.

Manmohan Singh and Hu discussed the broader issues expected to figure between the Outreach 5 at the G-8 summit at Heiligendamm on the Baltic coast tomorrow.

Menon said there was a large degree of congruence and identify of views between India and China, which would facilitate moving forward in several ways.

Hu renewed his invitation to the Prime Minister to visit China.

On India’s endeavour to strengthen bilateral relations with China, the Prime Minister disclosed that a 100-member youth delegation led by the panchayati raj, youth affairs and sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar would be visiting China to learn about the transformation in society and economy of that country.

On the Arunachal Pradesh issue, a month back BJP MP from the state Kiren Riju had raised eyebrows claiming that China had occupied a large tracts of Indian land in his state. On its part the Arunachal Pradesh government had rejected the claims of China and expressed concern that the issue was being raised time and again by the Chinese authorities.



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