Tuesday, Aug 05, 2003
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By Amit Baruah
According to sources, the two countries were working on the dates for the meeting. India and China agreed during the recent talks at the level of Heads of Government in Beijing on the need for greater interaction at different levels.
"Both sides agreed to hold regular high-level exchanges between the two countries. This will greatly enhance mutual understanding and expand bilateral relations. With a view to deepening their coordination and dialogues on bilateral, regional and international issues, both sides agreed on the need for annual meetings between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries," the joint declaration said.
Interestingly, the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, and the Chinese Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing, will also meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as part of a "trilateral" interaction with their Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, next month.
This will be the second "trilateral" meeting between the Foreign Ministers of the three countries on the sidelines of the UNGA the first one having taken place last year. The informal discussions between the Foreign Ministers of India, China and Russia have generated some interest. Both countries have dealt with the previous trilateral meeting in a low-key fashion; letting the Russian side give the "bare details" of what was talked about.
The sources also stressed that the recent "encounter" between Indian and Chinese patrol parties in Arunachal Pradesh would not affect the process of dialogue and interaction between New Delhi and Beijing.
That issue, they said, was being dealt with through diplomatic channels. Though India was not happy at the manner in which the "encounter" was handled by the Chinese side, it would not be allowed to come in the way of enhanced cooperation between the two sides.
The sources also said that "dates" for a first meeting between the Special Representatives of India and China to take a political view of the border dispute were also being worked out.
A key decision taken by Mr. Vajpayee and his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, in June, was to appoint the National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, and the Chinese Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dai Bingguo, as Special Representatives.
Given the current stalemate over the exchange of maps of the Western sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the appointment of Special Representatives was seen as creating an "over-arching" track to deal with the contentious boundary issue.
However, the work of the Special Representatives was not intended to be a substitute for the ongoing work of clarifying the LAC being done by the Joint Working Group and the Expert Group.
The sources, however, pointed out that even when the maps had been exchanged in the Middle sector of the LAC between the two countries the process was a time-consuming affair and not without hiccups. They added that the process of exchanging maps in the more contentious Western sector was even more complicated.
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