Special Correspondent

“Good ties can become a factor of peace”

NEW DELHI: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani on Wednesday advocated total normalisation of relations with China, and hoped that the recent visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Beijing had brought the two countries closer.

Speaking at a conference on democracy and conflict resolution in Asia at a “Dainik Jagran Summit” here, he wanted Pakistan to recognise the usefulness of the framework adopted by India and China for normalising and strengthening their ties “without holding them hostage to the resolution of the border dispute.”

Mr. Advani appreciated the evolution of the relations in recent years and their “constructive” approach to resolve the border question. “Fully normalised relations between the two countries can become a reliable factor of peace, stability and progress both in the region and globally.”

He credited the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with initiating the move when he was Foreign Minister in the Janata Party government in the late 70s. Mr. Vajpayee gave a big boost to the effort when he became Prime Minister by setting up an institutionalised framework for dialogue on resolution of the border dispute.

Mr. Advani conceded that “valuable” contributions for improving the bilateral ties were also made by the formere Prime Ministers, Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narasimha Rao. “Here we see an example of a highly useful consensus in foreign policy.”

Describing the developments in Nepal as worrisome, he felt it was unfortunate that the Maoists had gained political muscle in that country. The rise of Maoists in Nepal had grave implications for India given the nexus with the Maoists in India.

The summit also saw the former Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha, warning of the recession in the U.S. impacting the Indian economy but did not suggest solutions because present incumbent P. Chidambaram was “self opinionated.”

“I have no suggestions to offer to the Finance Minister, who is totally self-opinionated and considers himself the brightest star of the universe,” Mr. Sinha after the conference.

He accused the United Progressive Alliance government of failing to manage the rupee properly due to which “exports and production had suffered.”

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