India-US-China 'trilateral' at tentative stage: PM spokesman

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Kochi, Jan 22 (UNI) Unofficial discussions on a 'trilateral' grouping between India, the US and China were at a ''tentative stage'' with the three countries yet to define the ''core purpose'', which will bring them together, Sanjaya Baru, media adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said today.

Chairing a session on 'Indo-US Relations and China' at a three-day 'International Conference on Economic and Strategic Relations Among India, China and the US' here, Dr Baru said for the three countries to come together in a coherent grouping, it was necessary to find a ''core purpose''.

Stating that discussions on the matter were at a ''tentative stage'' at the ongoing conference, he hoped that some substantive points would emerge by the end of the deliberations.

Suggesting that energy could be one of the common meeting grounds for the three nations, Dr Baru said all of them were ''energy deficient countries having similar concerns about the oil economy and the need to change the global oil regime''.

Speaking at the session, Prof M D Nalapat, holding the UNESCO Peace Chair at Manipal University, said while India had 'greater commonality of interests' with the US than China, it was important that Washington treat New Delhi as an ''equal partner''.

Stating that India had its own position on issues, including its ties with Iran, Prof Nalapat felt that it was unfair on the part of the US to ask India ''to jump through the eye of a needle'' and take positions similar to the US in its foreign policy.

On the question of ties with China, he said the only possible resolution of the border dispute was to accept the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

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