Border issue to top agenda during Manmohan’s China visit

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New Delhi, October 20:   Indicating that the proposed border cooperation agreement with China will top the agenda during his visit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said he will discuss the issue with Premier Li Keqiang with a forward-looking and problem-solving approach.

In a statement before leaving on a five-day visit to Russia and China, he, however, made no reference to negotiations on a deal for setting up of two new nuclear reactors in the Russian-aided Kudankulam power project.

“India and China have historical issues and there are areas of concern. The two governments are addressing them with sincerity and maturity, without letting them affect the overall atmosphere of friendship and cooperation,” Mr. Manmohan said.

“I will be discussing some of these issues as part of strategic communication between leaders with a forward-looking and problem-solving approach,” he said in the departure statement.

Mr. Manmohan noted that together India and China have reached important consensus on maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border and made preliminary progress towards settlement of the India-China boundary question.

Officials on both sides are working on a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) to avoid face-off between their armies against the backdrop of a prolonged intrusion by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the Depsang Valley in Ladakh during this summer.

There are indications that the agreement may be signed during the visit.

On Wednesday, after discussion and lunch with the Chinese Premier, Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan will be hosted a dinner by President Xi Jinping, a rare honour for an Indian leader.

As the world’s two most populous nations and largest emerging economies, India and China today have a growing congruence of regional, global and economic interests, driven by respective developmental aspirations and shaped by the evolving strategic environment, Mr. Manmohan said.

Peaceful, friendly and cooperative relations between India and China have provided conditions for both the countries and the wider region to grow with stability, he said.

During the visit, the Prime Minister will discuss with Chinese interlocutors ways and means to consolidate common strategic interests.

“I will also be sharing my thoughts on India-China dynamics in the new era with the future leaders of China through an address at the Central Party School in Beijing,” Mr. Manmohan said.

He said the Beijing visit will provide an opportunity to continue discussions with the new leadership of China that took over earlier this year and return Premier Li’s visit to India in May on his first overseas trip as the head of the new Chinese government.

Noting that China is India’s largest neighbour and one of the top trading partners, Mr. Manmohan said, “In my last 9 years in office as Prime Minister, I have worked closely with Chinese leaders to establish a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership and put in place comprehensive mechanisms for cooperation and dialogue and to address bilateral issues between our two countries.”

Referring to his visit to Russia from Sunday, he said the annual summit with the country, which has been held since 2000, is an important feature of the special and privileged strategic partnership.

Mr. Manmohan will be participating in the 14th annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, his fifth in Moscow.

“The scope of our relationship with Russia is unique, encompassing strong and growing cooperation in areas such as defence, nuclear energy, science and technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges,” Mr. Manmohan said.

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