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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

India is comfortable with China ties, says Menon

January 16, 2008

12 January 2008
Amit Baruah Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI, India, Jan. 12 -- INDIA IS "comfortable" with its China
relationship, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said on Friday when
asked if New Delhi was worried that Beijing could now speedily move
troops into Tibet.

"You have to accept that the world keeps changing," Menon, who has
worked as ambassador to China, said philosophically, a day before Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh leaves for Beijing. In reply to another question
about Chinese "incursions" into Indian territory he said the two
countries had "worked together" to maintain peace and stability in the
border areas. "We don't see a change in that."

"The border is peaceful and has remained peaceful," Menon stressed,
pointing out that over several decades the two countries had been able
to maintain peace and stability there. "Our treaty obligation (under a
1993 agreement) is to maintain status quo," the foreign secretary said
even as both sides made efforts to reach a negotiated settlement on the
divisive border issue.

According to him, India and China had been "very successful" in
maintaining peace and security in the border areas and had effective
mechanisms to deal with situations in places where there were
overlapping claims. Menon said M.K. Narayanan and Dai Bingguo, special
representatives tasked to deal with the border question, had had several
rounds of discussions on a framework to resolve the dispute. He said the
special representatives would meet during Singh's visit to China, but
needed more time to arrive at a framework agreement on the border.

"I don't have that sense," Menon shot back when asked if China was
moving away from an April 2005 agreement on guiding principles and
parameters to resolve the border dispute. The foreign secretary said
that India was trying to increase the list of items it exported to China
in an effort to bridge the trade deficit, which now favoured Beijing.
"We would like to diversify our exports."

Menon was categorical that India would like to engage China in the field
of civil nuclear cooperation once "the way was clear", a reference to
removing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) hurdle. The issue of civil
nuclear cooperation would be raised again during the prime minister's
visit, he remarked, but added that the stage had not yet been reached
where India could ask its friends to support its case at the NSG. Other
issues like energy security, climate change, regional and global issues
that concerned both India and China would come up during the prime
minister's discussions in Beijing.

On climate change, the foreign secretary said there were many elements
on congruence in the Indian and Chinese positions though India had lower
emissions of greenhouse gases. Both India and China supported the Bali
roadmap and had "very similar approaches" to the issue of climate change
in international forums, he stressed. Singh would be the fifth Indian
prime minister to visit China after Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi, P.V.
Narsaimha Rao and Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The Hindustan Times is provided through HT Syndication, New Delhi.
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