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Surprise over U.S.-China joint statement

Special Correspondent

It talks of India-Pakistan ties

NEW DELHI: Strategic analysts have expressed surprise over the summit-level joint statement by U.S. and China mentioning India and Pakistan but cautioned against “over-excitement” on the issue. India has refused to react saying there is “no point in doing so.”

The statement by U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, issued on Tuesday in Beijing, supports the “improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan.”

It says “the two sides are ready to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region.”

“In the present circumstances, I hope Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu Jintao are not confusing hope with facts,” observed the former External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh. “India has consistently extended its hand of friendship to Pakistan but the response has been wholly unsatisfactory. The government and the people of India want warm and cordial relations with Pakistan so do the people of Pakistan. Regrettably the establishment of Pakistan is not in favour,” he added.

The former Foreign Secretary, Salman Haider, was surprised that such observations had been made because the U.S. knows it would be regarded as some sort of provocation to India. “But India should not get overexcited, for, it is a confident country which has done well and is in command of its processes. The statement should not give a message to Pakistan that it could start attempting the involvement of others in our bilateral affairs. We have repeatedly told our friends not to interfere. This is not a good formulation and is not at all helpful,” he said.

Not first time

However, this is not the first time that a U.S.-China summit-level joint statement has mentioned India. Meeting soon after the Pokhran tests in 1998, the then U.S. President Bill Clinton and the former Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, had issued a statement that was more specific on Kashmir, the main irritant in India-Pakistan relations. The statement expressed the “commitment” of the U.S. and China to help peacefully resolve “the difficult and long-standing differences between them [India and Pakistan], including the pending issue of Kashmir.”

As joint statements go, the recent as well as the earlier ones also dwell on the international situation in other parts of the world such as the Six-Party Talks on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue and the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan among others.

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