M A I N   N E W S

India, China to resume defence drills
Announcement comes before Manmohan Singh’s meeting with President Jintao at BRICS Summit
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

Blowing hot & cold with Beijing

  • Stapled visa row had resulted in suspension of military exchanges between two Asian giants
  • India was particularly upset with China for denying proper visa to its top Army commander
  • However, Beijing quietly stopped the practice of issuing stapled visas to J-K residents after Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December last year
  • India, though, expects a public announcement by China in this regard

New Delhi, April 12
India and China are set to resume defence exercises which were put on hold by New Delhi last year in the wake of the stapled visa row between the two countries. This was confirmed by sources in the government today on the eve of a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the margins of the BRICS Summit.

Armies of the two countries had conducted hand-to-hand exercises in 2008 in China and 2009 in India. Naval warships of the two countries had also been paying goodwill visits to each other’s ports since 2004. Both Army and naval exchanges were suspended in July last year after China issued stapled visa to Lt Gen BS Jaswal, who was commanding Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir, virtually questioning the state’s accession to India.

Despite protests by New Delhi, China refused to give proper visa to Lt Gen Jaswal, forcing India to cancel the military officer’s visit and suspend defence exchanges with China.

Indian nationals from J&K were being given stapled visas for the last two years but that practice has been quietly stopped by Beijing since Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December last year. India expects a public announcement by China in this regard.

Asked if the stapled visa row was no more a bone of contention between India and China, sources said the two countries were in touch to resolve the issue amicably. “There has been some movement on the stapled visa issue…we can’t say it is off the table…we will have to wait and watch,” they added.

The sources explained that despite the visa row, the two countries had maintained defence contacts in the past one year. In this connection, they drew attention to the regular border flag meetings between local military commanders of the two countries.

Asked to elaborate on the issues that are likely to come up at the meeting between Manmohan Singh and President Hu, the sources said the top leaders of the two countries had been regularly meeting each other and taking stock of bilateral ties. “Political exchanges between the two countries have been good in recent years,” added sources. The sources also recalled that both India and China had abstained from voting on a UN Security Council resolution calling for international intervention in Libya.

On the trade imbalance with China, the sources said this has been a matter of concern for New Delhi. The issue had been discussed by the two countries at the highest level. China had assured India that they would give access to Indian companies in certain areas.





Need to reduce trade deficit with China: PM
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

Manmohan SinghSanya, April 12
On the eve of his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the peaceful development of India and China would strengthen the BRICS grouping and would also be good for the global economy.

In an interview to the Chinese news agency XINHUA, he expressed confidence that India and China would surpass the bilateral trade target of 100 billion dollars by 2015. He, however, was of the view that the two countries would have to make efforts to promote greater Indian exports to China to reduce the trade deficit.

"During Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India in December last year, we have agreed to a series of measures to broad base and balance our trade and economic cooperation," Manmohan Singh said.

He observed that as two large and broad-based economies, India and China were contributing signficantly as engines of economic growth in the world. "We are both witnessing rapid growth, addressing the aspirations of our people and stimulating global demand."

The PM said the two countries were working together in various international fora on issues of interest to both of them and other fellow developing countries. These included issues such as comprehensive and inclusive economic development, food and energy security, sustainable development, the Doha round of trade talks and reform of international financial institutions. "Our shared objective remains to ensure sustainable development and balanced growth of the world economy and employment creation," said the PM. Asked if BRICS could play a bigger role on the stage of global economy, the PM said the five-nation grouping was relatively young and the contours of its cooperation were in the process of evolution. "We have, however, done well despite being such a young grouping."

The PM was of the view that since all five BRICS countries were curently in the UN Security Council, they should use the opportunity to shape and guide the international discourse on issues of importance to them.



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