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India sees key changes in China's stand on N-power, UNSC bid
V S Chandrasekar and Raghavendra in Beijing | January 14, 2008 22:05 IST
Indian officials saw significant change in Chinese positions on crucial issues like civil nuclear cooperation and support to New Delhi's case for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
On its part, Chinese officials also made it clear that Beijing [Images] understood India's aspirations in the peaceful development of nuclear energy and that a country was entitled to activities of peaceful use of atomic power.
"But it should be in line with international obligations in the field of nuclear non-proliferation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.
Indian officials saw incremental addition to the positions taken by Beijing in the past on these and other issues and the stance adopted today, as reflected in the joint statement after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and Premier Wen Jiabao.
"There is a new pledge to cooperation with India on civil nuclear energy. This constitutes a will of both the countries to cooperate in energy area," Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters at a briefing on the Singh-Wen talks.
Asked whether this stand of the Chinese side could mean that Beijing would support India at the Nuclear Suppliers Group in the context of the India-United States nuclear deal, he said, "At the moment, we are not asking anybody to say whether they will support us in the NSG. It is clear. NSG members are ready to support us. We will seek the support of countries when we decide to go to NSG."
To a question whether it is 'when' or 'if', Menon shot back saying it depends on which side of the nuclear debate one was placed in.
Officials point out the stand taken by the Chinese side during President Hu Jintao's visit to India in November, 2006 when they stressed the importance of cooperation in the civil nuclear field. Now the joint statement has employed the word 'pledge' to promote bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy, which they feel, is an improvement over the earlier Chinese position.
Similarly, on India's bid for permanent membership of the UNSC, Menon said this was the first time that the Chinese have put their position clearly in a written document.
"There is support for India's role in UNSC," he said, adding that Beijing backed India's aspirations for a greater role in the international body.
Summing up the whole visit, he said the discussions have been useful, taking the relationship to a new level. "We have increased the areas in which we were cooperating. The decisions are practical ways in which we work together at various levels."
The Prime Minister has been received with great warmth and some of it was personal to him because the two leaders have similar views on issues like inclusive growth.
Though this was Singh's maiden visit, the two leaders have met on the sidelines of international gatherings. The private dinner for the visiting Prime Minister was one thing that had not happened before, Menon said. "What we have seen is the maturity of relationship which includes various issues," he said.
Menon said difficult issues, including the boundary question, were addressed. Both sides expressed satisfaction at what the Special Representatives have achieved so far.
"They are in the process of identifying the common framework (on ways to resolve the issue). They are moving forward. Both the SRs have been asked to achieve the agreed framework. In the meantime, it was agreed to maintain peace and tranquility on the border."
On the Chinese claim over parts of Arunachal Pradesh, he said both countries had their own claims and discussions were being held since 1988 without prejudice to each other's case.
He said the Taiwan issue came up for discussion and the Chinese side said it was at a delicate stage now and they appreciated India's consistent position on this subject. The Tibet issue came up as a passing mention.