'India ready to work for a fair and reasonable solution to
border dispute with China'
India is prepared to work with China to resolve outstanding
differences on the boundary question and work for a settlement that
is ''fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable.''
Speaking at a dinner he had hosted in honour of Chinese
Pr esident Jiang Zemin, President Shankar Dayal Sharma said ''Happily,
our border is peaceful. Both sides are determined that it should remain so.''
The President said it was possible for the two countries to jointly address
other issues on which their positions differed.
''We must seek to deepen and broaden, through dialogue, our
mutual understanding since the dividend from this effort is peace,
stability and co-operation in our relations,'' Dr Sharma added.
In recent years, the President said India-China's bilateral co-operation had expanded
significantly but the potential was immense. ''We must give a
renewed impetus to our bilateral trade, economic co-operation and
technological collaboration,'' he added.
The Chinese president, accompanied
by a high-level delegation, arrived in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon to a red
carpet welcome on a three-day state visit. Speaking to reporters, Jiang said the two
countries would engage in an intensive exchange of views to resolve
Jiang, the first Chinese president to visit India, was received by
President Sharma and Prime
Minister H D Deve Gowda in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Earlier, as he landed at the Delhi military
airport in his special aircraft, he was received by External
Affairs Minister Inder Kumar Gujral.
Jiang, who is also the general secretary of the Chinese
Communist party and chairman of the military commission, is
accompanied by Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, Foreign Trade and
Economic Cooperation Minister Wu Yi, Civil Affairs Minister
Doji Cering and chairman of the Tibetan autonomous region Gyancian
Later, at the banquet on Thursday night, referring to the exchange of high-level visits between India and
China since 1988 when former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi went to
Beijing, Dr Sharma said, ''We take satisfaction from the growth of
mutual understanding and co-operation evidenced in the bilateral
agreements that have come about as a result of these exchanges.''
The President added that India-China relations had acquired new maturity
Referring to the international situation, Dr Sharma said India
and China, countries and civilisational entities of sub-continental
size, could not be passive spectators in this changing environment.
''Our co-operation is critical to its evolution. The co-operation and
friendship of Asia's two largest nations would be a powerful and
enduring factor in promoting peace and stability in our continent
and the world,'' he added.
Dr Sharma said friendship between India and China was dictated
by the logic of history and the needs of the present. ''Our
friendship is beneficial to the fundamental
interests of our two peoples. Your visit to India affords us an
opportunity to assess the current state and prospects of our
relationship until the end of the century and beyond,'' he added.
"Together," the President said, "we can explore a long-term vision of
India-China relations oriented to deal with the challenges of the
21st century. We can explore how our two nations should proceed
along the path of good neighbourly relations that we have embarked
upon. For our part, India seeks a relationship of constructive
co-operation with our largest neighbour, China."
Responding, Jiang said though the two countries still had
some outstanding problems left over from history, ''I can say for
sure that our common interests far outweigh our differences, as
neither of us poses a threat to the other.''
Stating that ''we all need a peaceful environment and many more
friends,'' the Chinese president said, ''we should trust each other
and conduct mutually beneficial co-operation.''
Jiang said he was confident that ''so long as the two countries
adhered to the five principles of peaceful co-existence, viewing and
handling our relations from a long-term perspective, we, the two
great nations of broad-mindedness and wisdom that pioneered human
civilisation, will surely bring a co-operative and constructive
partnership into the 21st century.''
Meanwhile, Pakistan said it sees no change
in China's policy towards the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir.
A foreign ministry spokesman in islamabad claimed that
irrespective of the reported statement by the Chinese ambassador in
India that China was opposed to internationalisation of the Kashmir
dispute, Beijing continued to support the Kashmiri people's right to
decide their future.
''I think one should not blow it out of proportion or context.
It does not mean a reversal of the Chinese policy,'' the spokesman
advised reporters who sought his comments on the Chinese envoy's
statement made on the eve of Jiang's state visits to India, Pakistan and Nepal.
Formal discussions between China and India on bilateral,
regional and international issues are scheduled for Friday when
three agreements would be signed. The agreements are aimed at
ensuring that the India-China border
continues to remain peaceful, permitting India to open a
consulate-general office in Hong Kong after it reverts to Chinese
sovereignty in July and launching of an India-China
effort in curbing crime and drug trafficking.
Jiang will visit Agra on Saturday and leave for Pakistan the
next day, the first time a Chinese leader will visit that
country after paying a visit to India.