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`China will be glad to help improve India-Pakistan ties'

By P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE, MARCH 6. China today expressed its willingness to ``play a constructive role in improving [the] relations between India and Pakistan, if the two countries would like it to.''

The Chinese Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing, said Beijing would be `glad' to help India and Pakistan come together, if asked to do so. Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the session of China's National People's Congress (NPC or Parliament) in Beijing, Mr. Li described both India and Pakistan as ``friendly neighbours.''

The current improvement in the relations between India and Pakistan ``demonstrated the strategic visions'' of the leaders of these two countries.

This was also reflective of the ``common aspirations'' of the people of India and Pakistan. China was indeed ``very pleased'' to see that the two were trying every means to tone up their ties.

Mr. Li's comments, indicative of China's known policy towards India and Pakistan for some time now, acquired importance in the context of the considerable attention that he paid to the current state of Beijing's bilateral ties with its key neighbours such as Russia and Japan, among others.

Making a positive appraisal of the ``active role'' being played by Islamabad in the current international campaign against terrorism, he said China ``highly values'' its friendship with Pakistan.

Mr. Li spoke positively about India in another context too. Denouncing the `unilateralism' that was now in evidence on the world stage, an obvious reference to the U.S., he pledged China's commitment to `multilateralism'.

China, India, Myanmar and other Asian countries had put forward the ``five principles of peaceful coexistence'' in the 1950s.

This was an outstanding contribution towards the ``development of international relations in the right direction.''

He called for a ``democratic and law-based'' system of international relations.

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