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Chinese PM eager to meet Singh in Thailand

Last updated on: October 16, 2009 19:48 IST

Amid recriminations on border issues, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has shown keen interest in meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Thailand next week.

He indicated his interest to Petroleum Minister Murli Deora who met the Chinese leader during his visit to Beijing to attend a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet on Wednesday.

"He (Jiabao) asked if Manmohan Singh will be going to Thailand next week to which I replied 'Yes'. He said he was looking forward to meeting Manmohan Singh (in Thailand) twice or thrice," Deora told reporters after his return.

Singh will be travelling to Thailand on October 24 to attend the ASEAN Summit.

China's objection to Singh's recent visit to Arunachal led to a war of words between the two countries.

India responded strongly to it and retaliated by questioning China's engagement in projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and asked it to stop such activities taking a "long-term view" of India-China relations.

An official Chinese newspaper on Friday also spoke of a possible meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries next week in Thailand.

China's ministry of foreign affairs did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh could take place on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Thailand from October 23-25.

"The ministry is still consulting with relevant departments about Premier Wen's schedule," a ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying by the state-run Global Times.

The paper also quoted media reports in India to say that a possible meeting between Wen and Singh could take place in "a sign of diplomacy amid renewed border disputes".

Meanwhile, responding to India's call on Wednesday to halt assistance on hydroelectric projects in PoK, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said, "The Kashmir issue is a question left over by history that should be resolved properly through consultation and dialogue by India and Pakistan."

An agreement was signed between China and Pakistan in August to begin construction of the project in PoK, one of the eight 7,000-MW hydro-projects to be built there.

The dam is being constructed at Bunji in the Astore district of the Gilgit-Baltistan area, the paper said.

Meanwhile, People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party of China has come out with a harsh anti-India editorial accusing it of becoming "hegemonistic".

"Nobody can deny that today India is a power. In recent years, Indians have become more narrow-minded and intolerable of outside criticism as nationalism sentiment rises, with some of them even turning to hegemony. It can be proved by India's recent provocation on border issues with China," it said.

"Although the pursuit of being a superpower is justifiable... the dream of superpower is mingled with the thought of hegemony, which places the South Asian giant in an awkward situation and results in repeated failure," it said.

The editorial said India was pursuing a foreign policy of "befriend the far and attack the near" and alleged that the country was engaged in the war separately with China and Pakistan.

"If India really wants to be a superpower, such a policy is short-sighted and immature," it said.

For India, the ease of tension with China and Pakistan is the only way to become a superpower, it said. "At present, China is pro-actively engaging in negotiations with India for the early settlement of border dispute and India should give a positive response," it said on the boundary talks.