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India plays down Chinese claim on Arunachal

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Nov 19: India today played down the claim of Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi that the whole of Arunachal Pradesh was Chinese territory with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh refusing to comment on the controvery.

''I would better not comment on the issue,'' Dr Singh told sources when asked what was his reaction to the Chinese envoy's claim just before the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the issue had not vitiated the atmosphere between the two countries.

In an interview to a private channel, Mr Mukherjee said, ''I don't think it (the claim) has vitiated the atmosphere'' ahead of Mr Hu's visit.

Having made the remark, ''it is for him (envoy) to justify'' his claim, Mr Mukherjee said.

The Minister parried a question on whether it has been quite a task improving India's relations with both the United States and China, particularly given the compulsions of the coalition politics within the country.

Mr Mukherjee said running a coalition was not an easy job, rather a ''difficult proposition''. However, he did elaborate.

Replying to a related question in the context of Iran and Venezuela, he said India's relations with any country had never been at the cost of its ties with others.

Asked whether the UPA government had compromised India's security concerns while concluding the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said the unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests was announced by the NDA government in 1998 after the Pokhran blasts. That moratorium was still valid and no one could predict when would the next test take place as it had been the case in the past as well.

All that he could say was that India had not given up its nuclear ambitions and this had been made clear in Parliament time and again. ''There is no question of compromising India's sovereignty.'' Mr Mukherjee denied suggestions that he was number two in the Manmohan Singh government, but indicated that a proposal to have a Deputy Prime Minister was given up right in the beginning in view of the coalition compulsions.

Even the Prime Minister was the first among the equals in the Cabinet under the provisions of the Indian Constitution, he pointed out.

UNI

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