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India, China discuss joint projects in Afghanistan

Source: PTI
July 04, 2010 20:01 IST
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India and China on Sunday discussed the possibility of working in collaborative projects in third countries, including joint initiatives in Afghanistan to tap large mineral resources, as part of efforts to broad base their relationship.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon, who arrived in Beijing on a four-day visit as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy began his high-level engagements by holding talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi today.

After one-and-half-hour talks at the Foreign Ministry, Yang accompanied by Menon told the Indian media that "talks went off very very well... we have a tour of the whole horizon" of issues".

A significant part of the discussions between Menon and Yang reportedly centred on economic issues and the booming trade between the two countries that is expected to touch a new of high of $60 billion this year.

Apparently issues relating to Pakistan and the visit of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to China beginning from July 6 reportedly to firm up cooperation to build two nuclear power plants figured in the talks.

"We also went to specifics about certain aspects of our relationship," Yang said without directly referring to Pakistan and India's concerns to the two nuclear reactors.

These issues were expected to figure in Menon's scheduled talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and State Councillor Dai Bingguo tomorrow.

India has expressed reservations over China's proposed nuclear deal with Pakistan under which it will provide two nuclear reactors to Pakistan.

"We talked a lot about high level exchanges and visits and (steps) to further boost trade volume to create even better conditions for mutual investment, cooperation and even talked about the possibility of cooperation on certain subjects in other countries and let us have three or four party collaborative projects in the economic field as well," he said.

Yang's reference to projects in third country was interesting as the two sides apparently discussed collaborative projects including in Afghanistan where they want to tap trillions of dollars worth mineral resources jointly with other countries.

Recent reports said huge deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium were large enough to transform Afghanistan into one of the most important mining centres in the world.

India, China, United States and a vast number of European countries which are present in Afghanistan could work out a joint initiative to tap the resources which could change the face of poverty-stricken Afghanistan reeling under a Taliban insurgency.
The two sides also discussed having preparatory meetings before top international conferences like the just-concluded G-20 summit to work out common positions on vital issues.

Over all Yang in his brief talk with the media painted a positive picture of ties between the two countries.

"What is more important is that over all tone of our relationship is very positive. There is lot in common between us. I believe that His Excellency Menon's visit will really pave the ground to a large extent for further our strategic partnership," he said.

"So I am very pleased with this visit. We pay a great deal of attention to his visit. Menon will meet with Prime Minister and State Councillor tomorrow. We attach a great deal of importance to this relationship. We have really enhanced our mutually political trust, look at G-20, climate change, BRIC. You can see we actually work closely together to push forward for common cause that is to serve the interest respective peoples, developing world and mankind," he said.

Yang also said China wants more student-related and cultural exchanges between the two neighbours.

"I mentioned given the size of respective populations, students and cultural exchange between the two countries so far have not really added too much. There is a lot we can do. Good beginning has been made. But we really have to pitch in and do lot more together to further consolidate the social basis to further our relationship," he said.

Yang also paid personal complements to Menon saying: "Menon and I are close and old friends".

Earlier in his opening remarks at the talks, Yang said in recent years the China-India relationship has maintained a sound momentum of development, delivering real advantages to both nations.

"As major developing countries they contributed to peace, stability and development of the region and the world at large," he said.

Menon, also a former ambassador to China, was assisted at the talks by the current Indian Ambassador S Jaishankar.

Menon said India was ready to work with China to intensify coordination on international and regional issues, so as to advance the India-China strategic partnership of cooperation, official Xinhua news agency said.

He also spoke highly of the achievements made in bilateral ties, noting the Indian government attached great importance to developing relations with China.

Yang in his meeting with Menon, according to Xinhua, pledged to give impetus to the development of bilateral ties.

As this year marked the 60th anniversary of Sino-India diplomatic ties, China was ready to take the opportunity to work with India to deepen mutual political trust, promote exchanges and cooperation, and enhance communication on major regional and international issues, Yang said.

Yang said China was willing to make concerted efforts with India to inject vitality and impetus to the development of ties.

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