Sikkim’s settled, no border talks during Wen’s India visit: China

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, April 1:

Ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao’s India visit next week, China today assured India that New Delhi’s sovereignty over Sikkim had been “completely settled” and the boundary dispute is to be put aside in the interest of overall relationship. “The question of Sikkim has already been settled,” Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi told a press conference at his residence.

He also said the two countries would seek to put their long-standing boundary dispute “out of the way” pending a final settlement during the premier’s visit.

Wen will first go to Bangalore on April 9 where he will visit some of the major IT industries and hold talks with Indian leaders on April 11 in New Delhi. He will also address a Delhi University function before departing on April 12.

“The boundary dispute will be put out of the way in our overall relationship. Pending settlement, the boundary issue should not be in the way of development of our relationship,” the envoy said. He said the two countries were busy drawing up political parameters and guiding principles for the resolution of the border dispute for possible announcement during Wen’s visit. Both countries wanted to maintain peace and tranquility along their border and encourage border trade along as many points as possible, including in Sikkim, he said.

To a question whether China, which had not accepted Sikkim’s merger with India, would “move forward” on the issue during Wen’s visit, the envoy said: “There is nothing to move forward. It is completely settled. You can check the maps.” He said the two countries would sign a dozen agreements during the Chinese leader’s visit, but would not go into details.

The agreements would cover political, economic and cultural fields. Both governments attached great importance to promoting bilateral trade that currently stood at $13.6 billion. The two were also discussing the idea of developing a free trade area between India and China. Asked if China was concerned about the growing India-US relations, Sun said every country had the right to develop friendly relations on the basis of the five principles of peaceful co-existence that China and India had jointly advocated. “We hope relations between India and US would develop in a friendly way and it would not be targeted against any third country.”

About China’s stand on India’s efforts to secure permanent membership of the UN Security Council, he said: “We would like to see India playing a bigger role in the UN as well as the Security Council.” Would that also mean support for veto right for India and other new permanent members? “Discussions are on. I don’t want to make any influence. We don’t want to make any specific remarks on that,” he said.

About India-Pakistan relations, he said Beijing would try its best to promote good relations between the two, denying China had given any assistance to Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons.

Dalai Lama issue to be addressed during talks

BEIJING: Premier Wen Jiabao is expected to address thorny political issues, including Tibet’s spiritual leader-in-exile the Dalai Lama, the government said on Friday.

“I think he will touch upon (the Dalai Lama) question with Indian leaders,” said China’s Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei. The Dalai Lama has headed a government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India since he fled Tibet in 1959 after an aborted uprising against Chinese rule. China denounces the Dalai Lama as a “splittist”.

“We have asked the Indian government prevent the Dalai Lama and his followers from using Indian territory for anti-China or splittist activities,” said Wu.

“The Indian government has agreed to do so. What we hope now is that the Indian government will live up to its word.” Wu said the Dalai Lama “has long been engaged in activities which oppose the Chinese government and seek to split the country.” — AP