India takes a long term view of its relations with China, says Nirupama Rao

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New Delhi, Oct.18 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said that India takes a long-term perspective of its relations with China and efforts are being made to narrow down differences and building more understanding.

Speaking to All India Radio in an interview with Kalyani Shankar, Nirupama Rao spoke on a variety of issues including India-China relations, Pakistan, Afghanistan, forthcoming visit to Arunachal Pradesh by the Dalai Lama and the Sri Lankan refugee question.

In response to questions on the recent Chinese comment on Arunachal, the controversy about China issuing special visa papers to Kashmiris, and reports of border incursions, Nirupama Rao said: "We take a long term perspective in our relations with China. China is our largest neighbour. We share a very long boundary with China."

"There are outstanding issues relating to this boundary which are yet to be resolved. And, therefore, the whole issue that you referred to and the Chinese protests that have been made should be seen in the context of the unresolved boundary question between the two countries. We are very intensively focused on this issue."

"As far as boundary between the two countries is concerned, there is still a lot of ground that we have to cover in terms of narrowing differences and building more understanding. But progress in this regard is being made, albeit slowly but it is being made surely. We have the mechanism of the special representatives appointed by the two governments to look into these issues and they have held thirteen rounds of discussions so far," Rao added.

"As far as the boundary question is concerned, even as we have had these reports of protests and the incursions, one must understand also that there is a situation in which both our countries are placed at the moment and that situation is this focus on trying to resolve the boundary question peacefully. And on that I believe, I can say it with all honesty, both governments are convinced that there is no other way to resolve this without dialogue," Rao further added.

On the issue of Line of Actual Control (LAC) and differences on varying territorial claims, Rao said: "We must take a realistic view that there are differences, there are differences when it comes to perceiving the line of actual control in the border areas. And there are differences also in terms of conflicting territorial claims. So this is a very complex issue. It is one of the most complicated boundary questions that exist anywhere in the world. But I think it is a good development and it is a positive factor that both countries are determined to resolve these issues."

When asked if is it likely that in the next round of discussions between the two special representatives the issue of incursions and Arunachal Pradesh may figure, Rao said: "In fact, the focus that has been given to both the incursions and also to the Arunachal Pradesh issue intensifies the need for the two sides to really sit down to resolve these issues with even more seriousness and determination."

"I think, both governments understand that a peaceful relationship between India and China is not only good for the two countries but it is good for this region, it is good globally also. Just look at the number of issues on which we can cooperate, we are cooperating whether it comes to the Doha Development round, whether it comes to climate change issues, whether it comes to cooperation in multilateral fora, in the reform of the international financial system in the wake of the global economic crisis. There are many many other issues in the relationship where we have common ground where there is a meeting of minds, so I think, we must look at this whole relationship in the larger perspective," Rao added.

Asked if the Government of India is taking the issue of China's objection to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh seriously, Rao said: "Of course we take this seriously, and we have been very very particular and very clear and unambivalent in expressing our position to the Chinese. In that way we have said that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India, it is an inalienable part of India."

On the scheduled visit of Buddhists' spiritual guru Dalai Lama in Arunachal Pradesh next month, Nirupama Rao said: "His Holiness Dalai Lama is a spiritual figure, he is a religious figure and he does not indulge in political activities on Indian soil and he is our guest in India and he is free to visit any part of our country." (ANI)

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