Thursday, Jul 24, 2003
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By Amit Baruah
The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, said today that there has been no change in India's decades-old policy on Tibet.
In a suo motu statement, he told the Lok Sabha that India had never doubted that the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) was part of the territory of the People's Republic of China (PRC). "There can, therefore, be no argument against reiterating it (that TAR was part of PRC territory). We have said nothing new about the presence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, or of Tibetan refugees in India," he said.
On the opening of the third point of border trade between India and China through the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim, he said with this memorandum on border trade the two countries had "also started the process by which Sikkim will cease to be an issue in India-China relations". "The twin objectives of my visit to establish close relations with the new leadership of China and impart fresh momentum to our increasingly diversified bilateral cooperation were fulfilled," he said.
India had agreed to a "wide-ranging, mutually beneficial engagement with China, even while simultaneously addressing our differences through amicable discussions".
The Prime Minister, who referred to his recent visits to China, Germany, St. Petersburg and Evian (France), said he had reason to be satisfied with the results of "all these visits". "Our dialogue with Germany has been reinforced. (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin went out of his way to have a bilateral meeting with me... This signalled the importance he attaches to our bilateral relationship." "(French) President (Jacques) Chirac conducted the Enlarged Dialogue (with the G-8) in a manner that highlighted the key importance of our views as a developing country."
All the leaders he met during these visits naturally showed interest in the situation in South Asia. "I was happy to note that all of them expressed support and appreciation for the hand of friendship we have extended to Pakistan and hoped Pakistan would reciprocate." "All of them spoke strongly against the menace of terrorism. I believe my interlocutors have a proper appreciation of our policy of promoting peace, regionally and internationally," the Prime Minister said.
On his June 22-27 visit to China, he said that for the first time in India-China relations, a "joint declaration" was signed by the two Prime Ministers. "The declaration outlines the principles and shared perspectives which will guide the future development of our bilateral relations. It also confirms the commitment of our two countries to work more closely together internationally to strengthen the trend towards multi-polarity, on WTO (World Trade Organisation) issues and on other areas of concern to developing countries," he said.
Referring to the appointment of "special representatives", he said this had been done to explore the framework of a boundary settlement from the political perspective of the overall bilateral relationship. "Premier Wen (Jiabao) and I also agreed that the joint work on the clarification of the Line of Control should continue smoothly and that peace and tranquillity in the border areas should continue to be maintained," the Prime Minister said.
"I was received with great warmth and courtesy (in China) and was given the distinct impression that our desire for mutual goodwill and for diversification of our bilateral relationship was fully reciprocated. A recurrent theme in all my meetings was the commitment of both sides to strengthen the ongoing process of building mutual trust and understanding."
Speaking about the "grand and impressive" 300th anniversary celebrations of St. Petersburg, Mr. Vajpayee said the invitation to India for this special event was a mark of the close strategic partnership between India and the Russian Federation. "Equally, the extraordinary level of the international participation at these celebrations illustrated the importance of Russia and the international stature of President Putin," he added.
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