PM Manmohan Singh talks tough with Li

PM Manmohan Singh talks tough with Li

PM Manmohan Singh talks tough with Li

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday commenced his maiden state visit to India with a call for peaceful coexistence between the two neighbours.

New Delhi talked tough with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telling his Chinese counterpart that recurrence of incidents like the recent incursion by Chinese soldiers in Ladakh might hinder the growth of bilateral ties.

Manmohan Singh underlined the importance of keeping the Line of Actual Control (LAC) calm while New Delhi and Beijing continued talks to settle the boundary dispute.

“It serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and their peoples and is a blessing to Asia and the world at large that China and India coexist peacefully, maintain friendly relations and work together to realise national rejuvenation,” Li said, as he arrived here for a visit that has come under a cloud in the wake of the recent border standoff along the LAC at Depsang Bulge in Ladakh.

Hours after his arrival, Li had a restricted meeting with Manmohan Singh, who is understood to have underlined the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility along the LAC, which separates India and China in the absence of a mutually agreed boundary.

Sources told Deccan Herald that the prime minister articulated New Delhi’s views on keeping the LAC calm in a “constructive but firm manner” and conveyed to the Chinese premier that India and China should pursue the settlement of the boundary dispute as a strategic objective.

Li is understood to have told Singh that Beijing expects New Delhi to do more to stop exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama from fomenting trouble in Tibet.

Altogether 119 Tibetans immolated themselves since February 2009 to protest Chinese rule in Tibet. Beijing has been accusing Dalai Lama and India-based Tibetan Government-in-Exile of triggering unrest in Tibet and instigating youths to self-immolate.

Singh, however, reiterated to Li that Dalai Lama, being a revered spiritual leader, was an honoured guest of the Indian government, although neither he nor any of his followers was ever allowed to be involved in any political or anti-China activities in India.

The prime minister conveyed to to his Chinese counterpart New Delhi’s concerns over downstream impact of the hydro-electric projects China was building or planning to build on Brahmaputra and other trans-border rivers in Tibet. He also stressed that the Chinese government should address India’s concerns over growing trade imbalance and should allow Indian informational technology and pharmaceutical companies greater market access in China.

Sources said that the talks between Singh and Li on Saturday were “constructive and cordial” and “set a positive tone”.

The prime minister and and the Chinese premier would again meet on Monday, when they would lead the delegations of their respective countries for formal parleys.
Earlier, in a written statement issued after his arrival in New Delhi in the afternoon, Li said that he was looking forward to exchanging views with Singh on India-China “bilateral ties as well as regional and global issues of common concerns”.

Singh also hosted a dinner for Li at his official residence on Sunday, ostensibly to infuse some warmth in the ties that has gone cold after the soldiers of Chinese People’s Liberation Army and People’s Armed Police Force crossed the LAC on April 15 last and pitched tents 19 km inside India, resulting in a three-week-long stand-off.

Though the stand-off was resolved on May 5 with both sides restoring the status quo, it brought to the fore the boundary dispute between the two and cast a shadow over the Chinese premier’s visit.

Li on Sunday also expressed confidence that his visit would strengthen mutual trust, deepen cooperation, expand common interests, consolidate bilateral friendship and would “inject new vigor into the China-India strategic and cooperative partnership designed for peace and prosperity”.

Li’s three-day visit to India is going to be his first to any foreign country after taking over as the premier last March. Apart from New Delhi, he will also visit Mumbai, before leaving for a tour to Pakistan on Wednesday.

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