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PM backs home after "constructive and productive" visit

New Delhi, Wed, 16 Jan 2008 NI Wire

After a three-day official visit to China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached India on Tuesday night and in talks on the face-to-face with media, he depicted the whole journey in three specific words - constructive, progressive and successful.

The Honourable Prime Minister summarised the visit by saying that lots of issues were part of our discussion comprising on the case of Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, civil nuclear cooperation, Regional Trade Agreement, Border dispute and so on.

Prime Minister said that he has sought Chinese support for its case in Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) for India specific safeguards in implementation of the civil nuclear deal with the United States, but without assurance yet. Further clarifying this he said although Beijing has not shown clear sign of approval for his support to India on the NSG case, but he said he did not think Beijing would create any obstacle cited the new warm relation between the two countries.

However Chinese leadership has given an assurance to consider India’s suggestion of holding dialogue between chiefs of atomic energy agency of the two countries and invitation of Chinese head of atomic energy agency to visit India in this regard.

“We have requested China to support us when this matter goes before the Board of Governors of IAEA and the NSG and the answer I got from both the leaders was that they support cooperation in civil nuclear cooperation with India consistent with their non-proliferation obligations," said the Prime Minister.

He also said there was no time frame for clearing the process with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) though we have left with some issues to be sorted out and that would be within the boundary of Parliamentary principle of democracy.

But China has offered support for bilateral civil nuclear cooperation in power generation, Singh said. China is an important and influential member of the NSG, a group of 45-members.

In response to a question whether China would support India's case in the NSG for fuel supplies under Indo-US deal, Manmohan Singh said, "I cannot say I have got a firm definite answer but my own feeling is that the relationship of trust and confidence is now establishing and we are succeeding in that. When the issue comes before relevant agencies I do not think China will be an obstacle. I can't say I have an assurance today."

While talking on a Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) between India and China, he said to examine its feasibility a group has been appointed by the two sides and commerce ministers of the two countries would further consider its recommendation.

To a question on comparison between Indian and Chinese economy, he said the world respects strength and for that Indian economy should do well improving on its good performance now.

While it was the duty of the government to correct some of the elements its public policy in macro economy, the industry should go beyond that gear up and become competitive globally.

Asked on the improvement of border dispute, the Prime Minister said that delimitation dispute with China was a “complex and complicated issue” and would take some time to be resolved. Though improvement on the matter is marked by instruction that have been given Special Representatives of the two countries to accelerate efforts to work out for an agreed framework for its resolution, he said.

He further said that despite the final solution is still awaited on the boundary dispute, the leadership of both countries have reiterated that “peace and tranquillity should be maintained along the border” in accordance with past agreement between them.

A great improvement has been marked in this visit that China agreed with India’s concern that we should keep an eye on what’s happening in our neighbourhood--in Pakistan, Iran and Myanmar.

Singh said that, “we both agreed that terrorism and fundamentalism constituted a threat. It is necessary for both our countries to consult each other on the evolving situation in our neighbourhood.”

Singh told China was shocked by the assassination of former Pakistan Premier Benazir Bhutto and wanted leaderships of both countries- India and China ‘to consult more often each other’ on the situation in that country.

"I did get a feeling while talking to President Hu Jintao that the Chinese leadership is concerned about the situation. They were shocked by the death Benazir Bhutto, her assassination," the prime minister told reporters.

"A strong, stable and peaceful Pakistan is in the interest of India and Asia,” said Manmohan Singh. President Hu Jintao also recognised there were problems in Pakistan.

Last but not least Singh said his visit confined to Beijing, was "very constructive and productive" and characterised by "frankness and great warmth".

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