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Four-nation grouping not anti-China: PM
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News service

New Delhi, June 27
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight assured China that the proposed Quadrilateral Strategic Forum involving Japan, Australia, the United States and India, was not a military alliance against anybody.

"(The proposed forum) is not a military alliance. We are not ganging up against anybody," Manmohan Singh said. He disclosed that he had raised this issue with Chinese President Hu Jintao during his recent bilateral meeting on the margins of G8 Outreach summit in Germany and conveyed this thought to him.

"There is enough space for everybody to coexist," the Prime Minister said about the proposed quadrilateral.

The Prime Minister's remarks assume significance as this is the first time he has spoken about the issue. It also means that the four countries named above are serious about forming the loose alliance, which officials here believe would be formally announced by this year’s end.

Officials of the four partner countries had met discreetly last month for preliminary talks. China's anger about the move manifested very recently when Beijing upped the ante on Arunachal Pradesh.

The Prime Minister was asked by this correspondent how he explained the Chinese volte-face from the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles agreement which he had signed with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao during the latter's New Delhi visit in 2005.

The Prime Minister was also asked how he reacted to the most recent Chinese statement on Arunachal which went contrary to the 2005 bilateral agreement on how the boundary dispute should be solved. "What can I say? We want to settle all problems with our neighbours peacefully, including the boundary issue with China," the Prime Minister said.

Asked whether he was hopeful of operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the Prime Minister said “one or two issues still remained” to be sorted out. He said these pertained to some Indian concerns which needed to be addressed. The Prime Minister, in response to a question as to when he would be visiting the US, said it was yet to be decided.

But in any case, he was scheduled to go to the US in September to attend the UN General Assembly.

In context of the nuclear deal, Manmohan Singh stressed that no Indian Prime Minister had spoken to the Parliament so much as him and no Indian Prime Minister had ever been as transparent as he had been.

The Prime Minister was speaking to reporters informally at his official residence after launching a book edited by former foreign secretary M K Rasgotra.

In his speech after releasing the book “The New Asian Power Dynamic”, Manmohan Singh said his meetings with Asian leaders dominated his calendar in past three years. He said he had directed the Ministry of External Affairs to be more proactive in funding research aimed at making available more policy inputs to the government.

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