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PM's message: No need to fear China
M K Razdan in Shanghai | June 27, 2003 15:59 IST
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday sought to dispel doubts that India has anything to fear from China or that it had got a raw deal on Sikkim.
Addressing a press conference in Shanghai at the conclusion of his six-day official visit to China, Vajpayee said he had established a rapport with the new Chinese leadership and felt it would be possible to make progress in bilateral ties on all issues.
Summing up the visit, Vajpayee said his objective of strengthening ties with China and to build greater confidence between the two countries had been achieved.
"It is a long journey but we have made a good beginning," he said.
He even did not rule out the possibility of military cooperation with China, but said there would be no military agreement.
The two countries were in agreement that multi-polarity in world affairs should be strengthened, the prime minister said.
He sought to dispel fears that opening of border trade between the two countries would lead to difficulties, insisting that instead it would open up new vistas.
On the Sino-Indian border dispute, the prime minister described as an important step the appointment of special representatives by both the sides to explore a settlement to the problem from a political perspective.
He did not agree with the view that while India had agreed to what Beijing wanted on Tibet, it had got nothing in return on Sikkim.
Denying any ambiguity or inconsistency in India's position on Tibet, the prime minister said, in the joint declaration signed by the two countries, India had only articulated its stand 'in a better way'.
In an opening statement at the press conference, Vajpayee said that there has been 'much discussion and debate on our policy on Tibet as reflected' in the joint declaration.
"I would only like to state that there is no ambiguity or inconsistency in our position on the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. We were, therefore, happy to reiterate our position in the joint declaration," the prime minister said.
The joint declaration signed by the prime minister and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao earlier this week, in which India agreed that the Tibetan Autonomous Region was part of the territory of the People's Republic of China, laid emphasis on the part about Tibet being an autonomous region, he told the assembled mediapersons.
Vajpayee refuted suggestions that the interests of Tibetans had been ignored. There is no room for complaint 'by our Tibetan friends', he insisted.
Before concluding his visit, Vajpayee and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao had a ten-minute phone conversation in which they decided to remain in touch with each other on bilateral and other issues of common interest, official sources said in Shanghai.
During the conversation, 78-year-old Vajpayee thanked Wen for the warm and cordial reception given to him and his delegation during the visit. The prime minister also renewed his invitation to Wen, 18 years his junior, to visit India at his convenience.
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