India, China agree to maintain peace on border

India, China agree to maintain peace on border

India, China agree to maintain peace on border

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao during their bilateral talk on the sidelines of the 15th ASEAN Summit at Hua Hin in Thailand on Saturday. PTI

A day after he met his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao here and discussed border problem and other issues like construction of dam by China on Brahmaputra river, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the two leaders agreed that existing mechanisms should be used to resolve all outstanding issues.

Addressing a press conference before winding up his two-day visit here for ASEAN-India and East Asia Summits, Singh made it clear that Arunachal Pradesh, over which China lays claim, is an integral part of India.

He said the issue related to the Dalai Lama also came up during his meeting with Wen and he told Wen that the Tibetan spiritual leader is an "honoured guest" but the Tibetan refugees were not permitted to engage in political activities.

"I had a frank and constructive exchange of views with Premier Wen," Singh said, adding "Both of us agreed that we should continue and strengthen efforts to build political trust and understanding."

Describing the boundary problem as a "complex issue" which "cannot be wished away", he said "the Premier and I reaffirmed the need to maintain peace and tranquility on the border pending the resolution of the boundary question."

"We discussed all these issues and agreed that the existing mechanism of bilateral cooperation should be used to resolve all issues in the spirit of strategic and cooperative partnership," Singh said when asked whether boundary issue figured in the talks.

He noted that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will be visiting India in two days and the Foreign Ministers of the two countries would have an opportunity to "discuss all issues which have bearing on our relationship."

Yang will reach Bangalore tomorrow for Russia-India-China trilateral Foreign Ministerial meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting between Singh and Wen came in the backdrop of war of words over Arunachal Pradesh and some other issues like the Dalai Lama's proposed visit to the state.

Pointing out that the two countries had "established government channels available to exchange views" on all bilateral issues, Singh said "one doesn't have, therefore, to go to the media to accentuate or exaggerate the amount of differences that prevail."

Singh said he raised with Wen the issue of dam being constructed by China on Brahmaputra river, amid concerns that it would lead to diversion of the river water and badly affect the north eastern states of India.

"I did raise this issue" with Wen and conveyed to him that cooperation in the area of trans-border rivers is of mutual benefit, he said.

Quoting Wen, Singh said relevant discussion on trans-border river issues could be held through the expert-level mechanism that the two countries have constituted.

The Chinese Premier said his country has been providing hydrological data during the flood season "keeping in mind the overall friendly relations and the humanitarian aspects".

Reports about China's plans to build the 116-metre tall and 389.5-metre long dam had emerged three years back after which the two countries set up an Expert-Level Mechanism which held three meetings over the last three years.

The dam is said to be part of a 540 MW power project and India fears that the construction on Brahmaputra river could lead to submergence and other problems downstream in Assam and other areas. It, however, has no problems with any run-off-the-river project.

To a question on Chinese participation in projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir which India had objected to, Singh said he did not raise this issue specifically.

He, however, underlined that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, apparently suggesting that involvement of China in activities in parts of the state under Pakistani occupation was not acceptable.

Contrary to the information provided by the Indian side after the Singh-Wen meeting on Saturday that the Dalai Lama issue did not figure in the talks, the Prime Minister himself said the matter did come up.

"Well, all I can say is I explained to Premier Wen that the Dalai Lama is our honoured guest. He is a religious leader," Singh said.

At the same time, he told Wen that "we do not allow Tibetan refugees to indulge in political activities and as a proof of that last year we took resolute action at the time of Olympics (torch relay in Delhi) when there were reports that some Tibetan refugees might disrupt the process."

Asked whether the Chinese Premier expressed objection to Dalai Lama's proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh next month, Singh said "I am not aware of the plans of the Dalai Lama".

China had recently expressed objection to the Dalai Lama's planned visit to Arunachal as the state was disputed. India rejected it, saying Arunachal is he was free to travel anywhere in the country.