Hu-Manmohan talks to go over several thorny bilateral issues

Top Chinese officials said on Tuesday that working with India under the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) umbrella would help address long-persisting mistrust between the neighbours, adding that they expected specific bilateral outcomes from President Hu Jintao's visit to New Delhi next week for the fourth summit between the fast-rising emerging economies.

The New Delhi summit, said Assistant Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, was “a very important platform” to enhance trust which, he said was of “an important value” to the now-annual coming together of the five nations.

Mr. Hu, who will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along the sidelines of the March 28 and 29 summit, is expected to officially launch the marking of 2012 as the year of friendship and cooperation between India and China. His talks with Dr. Singh will go over several thorny bilateral issues.

Luo Zhaohui, Director General of the Department of Asian Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, told reporters here that both countries had “managed very well” long-persisting frictions, such as the boundary dispute and strains over what China has described as the separatist activities of the exiled Dalai Lama.

“There is peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” said Mr. Luo.

“We also appreciate that the Government of India had stated on many occasions that Tibet is an inalienable part of China's territory, and that India does not allow the Dalai Lama to use its territory for any separatist activities against China.”

On the multilateral front, expanding economic and financial cooperation between the five emerging economies will set the agenda.

The countries are expected to formally sign an agreement among their export-import banks. The deal, which officials said was still being worked out, is expected to add heft to an agreement announced at the last summit to promote direct trade and loans using local currencies, to reduce reliance on the dollar and guard against global volatility.

Increasing the voice of emerging economies in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be another key issue. Mr. Ma said the on-going search for the next head of the World Bank would come up during the talks, with the five countries having maintained “close communication” with each other on the issue. A strong call for the IMF to speed up the process of reforming quotas is also expected to be reflected in the New Delhi declaration that the summit will adopt.

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