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China wants border issues phased out

M K Razdan & Anil K Joseph in Beijing | June 23, 2003 15:17 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao met in Beijing's Great Hall of People on Monday and discussed various bilateral and international issues.

Attired in a grey bandgala suit, Vajpayee, on the second day of his six-day official visit to China, drove from his hotel to the Great Hall of People, adjacent to the Tiananmen Square, where Wen welcomed him with a warm handshake and a Chinese girl presented a bouquet to him. The prime minister was then accorded a ceremonial guard of honour.

At the outset the 78-year-old Vajpayee, the first Indian prime minister to visit the Middle Kingdom in ten years, told Wen, 18 years his junior, that their discussions should be held with 'openness and frankness as between friends'.

The two leaders then began a 'restricted' meeting with limited number of aides. External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra and the Indian Ambassador to China, Shiv Shankar Menon, assisted Vajpayee.

Both sides were of the view that their border dispute should not hold up progress in other areas.

Wen, who assumed office only three months ago, suggested that the differences on the border should be phased out and the two countries should have consultations on an 'equal footing in a friendly atmosphere'.

Sinha said the question of Chinese recognition of Sikkim as an integral part of India came up during the discussions.

That meeting lasted 45 minutes. Officials of the two countries then began discussions to see if the differences on the border issue could be narrowed down during Vajpayee's stay in Beijing.

No further details of what the officials were attempting were given.

The two sides signed as many as nine agreements, including those on easing of visa restrictions and judicial cooperation.

India-Pakistan ties came up when the Chinese premier commended Vajpayee for his offer of friendship to Islamabad and told him that China was interested in a peaceful South Asia.

Vajpayee mentioned that cross-border terrorism from Pakistan had to come to an end.


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