India-China ties to dominate foreign ministers' meet
Bangalore: India's up and down ties with China are likely to dominate the ninth trilateral meeting of the two Asian giants and Russia in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had stated at Hua Hin (Thailand) on Sunday that differences between India and China would be taken up by their respective foreign ministers when they meet .
The stage is now set for serious talks between the two countries.
Though the day-long meeting of Russia, India and China (RIC) is ostensibly meant to discuss ways to expand cooperation in regional and international issues such as the global financial crisis, terrorism and UN reforms, the bilateral talks between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on the sidelines would be keenly watched.
"Yang and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are arriving in Bangalore late Monday with a team of officials for the three-nation dialogue Tuesday. Krishna will also hold a separate meeting with Yang on the sidelines," an external affairs ministry spokesman told IANS here.
A joint declaration will be made after the trilateral meeting on the initiatives to be taken for furthering cooperation among the three countries. Trade and commerce are also high on the agenda to counter the impact of the global recession.
"The meeting will focus on developing contacts between businesses among the three nations, measures to deal with the menace of terrorism, especially in the south Asian region and inclusive growth," the official said.
In light of Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao agreeing on the sidelines of the Indo-ASEAN summit in the Thai resort to resolve India-China differences amicably, observers hope the talks between Krishna and Yang will ease the tensions between the two neighbours.
The unresolved border dispute, the allegations of Chinese intrusions into Indian territories, China's objection to Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh early this month and the upcoming visit of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to the border state Nov 8 are expected to figure prominently in the bilateral talks between Krishna and Yang.
Former foreign secretary A P Venkateshwaran, however, feels nothing substantial would come out of the talks, especially on the border issue, which has been hanging fire for the past four decades.
"We can only hope there will be no aggression from China again. At the same time we must be prepared for the worst. The fact of the matter is China had no border with India until it took over Tibet by force in the fifties. Though its leadership signed an agreement with the Dalai Lama, they backed out," Venkateshwaran recalled.
India's IT capital Bangalore is holding such a major international meeting 23 years after it played host to the second South Asian Association of Regional Countries (SAARC) summit in November 1986 under then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Krishna, a former chief minister of Karnataka, took the initiative to hold the meet in this garden city to outline the common goals and objectives of the countries in the region.
Earlier, Krishna told reporters Sunday at Mangalore, about 350 km from Bangalore, that he looked forward to a new era of good relationships with China and Russia as the "cold war has ended long ago".
"We would like to keep our relations with Russia and China very transparent, forthright and friendly. Our relations with Russia have been very cordial and with China it is improving on a day-to-day basis. The two countries have been coming closer on many issues," Krishna said at a press conference after flagging off the first batch of Haj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia from Mangalore airport.
Krishna reiterated that Arunachal Pradesh was an integral part of India and said China had no dispute over it.
"The recent elections in the border state have sustained this further," he added.