BEIJING: Asian powers China and India are creating a new forward-looking relationship during “excellent” meetings between the nuclear neighbours, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said yesterday.
Ties between the two countries have for decades been plagued by tensions over issues such as Tibet, close Chinese ties with Pakistan and territorial disputes, but the Indian leader looked forward to turning the page on past enmity.
“I must say with great satisfaction that my meetings with the leadership of China have been excellent,” he told the Sino-Indian Economic Co-operation Symposium during the first visit by an Indian premier to China for a decade.
“They have confirmed that the desire to build stable, enduring and forward-looking ties of friendship is shared by the highest political levels in both countries.”
The mutual backslapping from Vajpayee's meeting on Monday with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao continued yesterday in talks with military leader Jiang Zemin who described Vajpayee as “an old friend.”
Vajpayee said his visit had imparted “a fresh momentum to the comprehensive co-operation which India and China are in the process of building.”
On Monday, the Asian giants signed a landmark declaration that outlined the goals for what they hoped would be a new era of harmonious relations.
Few details were released on the wording of the pact but the China Daily newspaper said in the declaration India for the first time recognised Tibet as Chinese territory.
China has occupied Tibet since 1951 and has been accused of trying to wipe out Tibet's Buddhist-based culture through political and religious repression and a flood of ethnic Chinese immigration.
India is home to some 100,000 Tibetans who have fled China and provides the base for the Tibetan government-in-exile, and the move to recognise Tibet as part of China could remove a significant source of tension between New Delhi and Beijing.
Both sides have appeared intent on injecting new life into ties during Vajpayee's visit.
Wen made clear that China did not view India's development as a threat and China's development should not pose a threat to India.
Vajpayee added that there had been “encouraging” results on economic co-operation with bilateral trade growing at an annual rate of 30%, which he said was “quite significant.”
“Of course, we have much further to go to realise the full potential of our partnership,” he said.
“We have, first and foremost, to bridge the information gap between the business communities of our two countries. There has to be far greater exposure in each country of the opportunities available in the other.”
Vajpayee said he and Wen decided to form a Joint Study Group of economists and officials from both countries “to review existing co-operation, identify new areas of promise and draw up a comprehensive perspective plan for the further development of a multi-faceted economic interaction.” – AFP
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