Putting NSG row behind, India and China talk n-cooperation

By Manish Chand, IANS,

New York : Putting behind them the mistrust sparked by China’s perceived negative role in the NSG, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday and agreed to push cooperation in civilian nuclear energy between the countries.

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“They had a very warm and friendly meeting. The two countries have cooperated in the past and we propose to do so in the future too,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters.

“China joined consensus in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). That issue is behind us,” Menon said after the first meeting between Manmohan Singh and Wen after the Sep 6 NSG waiver to India to resume global civilian nuclear commerce.

In the past, China had supplied fuel for the Tarapur nuclear plant. Post the NSG waiver, the two countries now want to firm up their strategic partnership and cooperate on a range of global issues, including multilateral trade negotiations and climate change, Menon said.

India conveyed its disappointment to China over its perceived negative role in trying to block the consensus in the Sep 4-6 NSG meeting in Vienna when Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited New Delhi last month. Yang had, however, repudiated Indian assessment and insisted vigorously that Beijing played a “constructive and positive” role in the nuclear cartel.

The two prime ministers’ meeting in New York Wednesday has, however, set a positive tone for Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing next month to attend the ASEM conclave of Asian and European leaders.

This was the seventh meeting in the last four-and-a-half years between the two leaders who share a personal rapport, Menon said.

They also discussed “similar approaches” to major global issues and shared their experience in inclusive development and inclusive globalization. Describing the decades-old border dispute as “a complicated issue”, the two leaders “expressed satisfaction” at the progress so far in their negotiations on the boundary dispute.

They encouraged their Special Representatives – the chief pointsperson for boundary negotiationsb – to continue the talks, Menon said.

India and China concluded their 12th round of boundary talks last week without a breakthrough due to the gap between their versions of the agreed framework for the settlement of the boundary question.

The two sides also expressed optimism about achieving $60 billion trade much before the 2010 deadline.