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May 29, 2000
Jiang Zemin seeks 'constructive partnership'
Nikhil Lakshman in Beijing
"From a strategic height we must continue to work for a constructive partnership of co-operation in the 21st century," President Jiang Zemin told President K R Narayanan at their summit in Beijing on Monday morning.
The meeting went beyond the scheduled two hours, with both Presidents animatedly discussing issues of bilateral and multilateral importance for another 30 minutes.
Jiang emphasised repeatedly Narayanan's special status in China, describing him as an old friend of his country, referring to his role as ambassador when India and China normalised relations for the first time after the 1962 war, and, of course, how he had worked towards improving the bilateral relationship.
Earlier, guns boomed across Tianenmen Square as Jiang greeted Narayanan at the forecourt of the Great Hall of the People. The President and First Lady were greeted by the Chinese President, Vice Premier Qian Qiachen (a former foreign minister who is in charge of foreign affairs), Foreign Minister Tang and Jiang Xheng Hua, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress. Vice-chairman Jiang is a former alumnus of the School of Population Studies, Bombay.
Though ministry of external affairs officials would not confirm if Jiang and Narayanan discussed the border issue, it is understood that the Indian President referred to the two agreements of the past and the 12 Joint Working Group meetings held so far, and emphasised the need to accelerate the process of delineating the Line of Actual Control. The Chinese and Indian Expert Groups are to meet in five months time with their respective cartographers and maps to debate the 40-year-old border issue.
In response, Jiang referred to disputes left over by history, but he said the differences must be resolved by patience, when the conditions are right.
"It is true that problems have been left to us by history," Narayayan is reported to have told Jiang. "But these problems should be resolved and not left again to history. This is not a problem we should bequeath future generations." "They must be resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding, mutual accommodation and mutual adjustment," Jiang said.
If India raised the issue of Pakistan, sources indicated that the Chinese leader brought up the issue of the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa Lama, hoping that India would not encourage the Dalai Lama's political activities and expressing the apprehension that anti-Chinese groups may exploit his presence in India.
Narayanan is believed to have assured Jiang that his government considered the Dalai Lama as a religious, not a political, leader, and that the Karmapa Lama would not be permitted to engage in political activities.
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