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'Chinese Premier's visit will expand common ground'

December 08, 2010 16:18 IST

Speaking about the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiaobao to India, Indian Ambassador to China S Jaishankar said, "The visit in a sense is to expand common ground. We have to demonstrate cooperation on the ground in all its manifestations. We have come a long way and we have to find practical ways of cooperation, which will finally shape public perception of the state of the ties." 

The Ambassador, who is holding extensive consultations with top Chinese officials to make preparations for Wen's visit, told PTI. As the two countries strive to narrow down the differences, they have to seek a common ground to manage the relationship.

"We have to manage our differences and maximise our opportunities," he said, declining to go into differences relating to host of issues which officials of the two countries feverishly trying to sort out following the meeting between Wen and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in October.

Wen's visit will once again bring together the two prime ministers, what Jaishankar describes as meeting between "two great pragmatists". It appears that one has to wait to know about the "major take-aways" of the visit as preparations are still continuing.

Speculation is rife that the two countries may sign a number of agreements and MOUs mostly relating to trade, business and economic issues. All these things will be known only few days before the visit as talks are still progressing, Jaishankar said.

The Indian envoy for his part would not like to go into the many issues of concern to India which was intensely discussed in a host of high-level meetings since last month, making the visit the most well prepared in terms of talks and substance.

Ever since Wen-Singh meeting, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi met at Wuhan in China.

This was followed by strategic dialogue conducted by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao with Chinese officials in Beijing.

The final round of talks were held recently between National Security Advisor Shivhshankar Menon and top Chinese diplomat Dai Bingguo, who while holding 14th round of border talks also focused on key bilateral issues, specially about ambiguities relating to Beijing's policy toward Jammu and Kashmir, sparking of concerns that it is giving pro-Pakistan slant.

At the end of talks, Menon said Wen's visit in many ways could be a landmark event.

In all the talks, the issuance of stapled visas as well as presence of Chinese personnel taking part in certain sensitive projects in the disputed territory figured high on the agenda.

Wen's visit was expected to bring about greater degree of clarity on the issues following up on his assertions in Hanoi that preparations should be made to address mutual concerns during his New Delhi visit.

China's invitation and granting of visa to Tanya Gupta, the singer from Jammu and Kashmir, to sing at the recently concluded Asian Games in Guangzhou led to speculation that Beijing began a roll back to its stapled visa policy to Jammu and Kashmir residents.

Informed sources say that there will not be an announcement about it just as there was none when Beijing started it in 2008.

The Indian officials hope that Wen's visit would end the stalemate once for all as it became a major irritant leading to India putting on hold defence exchanges with China after refusal of visa to General B S Jaswal.

Also Wen's visit is taking place after the high-profile visits by British Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barrack Obama and his French counterpart Nicholas Sarkozy, all veto wielding members of the UN Security Council, expressing their support for India's bid for a permanent seat.

Indian officials believe that Wen's visit would try to bring back the "good ambiance" built by his 2005 visit which was followed by Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit in 2007 and Singh's visit to Beijing.

Tourism traffic between the two countries went up as 1.02 lakh Chinese visited India this year so far while 1.66 lakh Indians visited China. Air links have also grown with about 20 flights being operated between the two countries from different destinations.

K J M Varma in Beijing
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