India, China agree to advance ongoing boundary negotiations

BILATERAL Bonhomie:President Pranab Mukherjee with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday.— PHOTO: PTI  

Cordial and clear discussions on sensitive issues marked India-China talks on Thursday during President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Beijing but no significant change in divergent positions was realised.

Meetings with President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and National Peoples’ Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang marked a busy third day of a four-day visit by Mr. Mukherjee to China.

Just before Mr. Mukherjee’s visit, Chinese spokespersons had voiced opposition to India joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group without signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mr. Mukherjee’s delegation apprised its Chinese counterparts about India’s aims to rapidly expand its civilian nuclear programme in line with the country’s energy needs. He also asked Mr. Xi to give this matter “personal attention”, said foreign secretary S. Jaishankar.

Cooperation on n-energy

Xiao Qian, Director-General of Asian region in China’s ministry of foreign affairs, briefing the press following the meeting also said that the two leaders “agreed to strengthen cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy”.

Mr. Mukherjee led a delegation to meet Mr. Xi after receiving a grand welcome in a ceremony held at the Great Hall of Peace in Beijing.

The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in “investment, trade and tourism”. Chinese officials also showed interest in India’s flagship schemes such as ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ and in possibilities of investment in the Smart Cities project.

Specifically, China has also agreed to accommodate more Indian tourists (seven batches or around 400 people this year) to visit Kailash Mansarovar via the Nathu La pass into Tibet.

The two leaders also agreed to advance the ongoing boundary negotiations under the ‘Special Representatives’ mechanism, and at the same time resolved to take actions to maintain peace and tranquillity in the boundary regions. Mr. Jaishankar said that the Indian delegation had conveyed to the Chinese the need to eliminate cross-border terrorism.

The specific issue of China’s support for sanctions against the Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar was not discussed, Mr Xiao said.