Wednesday, Jun 25, 2003
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India & World
By Amit Baruah
The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee (left) with the Chinese President, Hu Jintao, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday.
In a brief chat with this correspondent, an upbeat Prime Minister said: "I see the appointment of Special Representatives as a significant step forward in resolving the boundary dispute between India and China".
Informed sources said that by nominating his Principal Secretary and National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, as the Indian "special representative" to explore "from the political perspective" the framework of a boundary settlement, a powerful signal to push forward ties with China had been sent out by Mr. Vajpayee. Mr. Mishra, a veteran diplomat, is known to enjoy the complete trust of the Prime Minister.
From the Chinese side, the appointment of Dai Bingguo, the senior-most Vice-Minister in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, is also significant. A member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Mr. Dai was considered for appointment as the Foreign Minister, and is the number two man in the Ministry.
The sources said that the joint declaration even refers to the "ultimate solution" to the boundary issue. Interestingly, it was Mr. Vajpayee who proposed the appointment of "special representatives" during the meeting with his counterpart, Wen Jiabao, yesterday. The proposal was accepted immediately.
On Monday, the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, and his counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, met and formally agreed to the appointment of the "special representatives".
They also pointed out that India and China, for the first time ever, had agreed that their respective navies would conduct joint "search and rescue exercises". This, the sources added, could be considered as "naval exercises" with the objective of "search and rescue".
During his April visit, the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, had proposed anti-piracy measures to be taken up with China. However, since these measures are conducted by the Chinese Communications Ministry, to get the navies involved, search and rescue missions have been agreed upon during this visit.
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