By Ashok Dixit
Onboard Air India One, Jan 16 : A visibly pleased Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said late on Tuesday night that he was still hopeful about receiving China's support at the next Board of Governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and at the next Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting for the vexed U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation deal, but candidly admitted that he had not received a "categorical assurance from the leadership in Beijing.
Speaking onboard Air India One while returning from a "satisfactory" three-day first visit to China as Prime Minister, Dr. Singh also said that he could not give a "definitive answer" to what the government would do at both the IAEA and the NSG if domestic opposition, notably from the outside supporting Left and the BJP to the civil nuclear initiative persisted. e told the media team accompanying him the landmark visit that an "early decision" would have to be taken on the next steps in the deal, and added with a smile that persuading the Left to give up their opposition to the deal was "an essay in mutual comprehension and mutual persuasion". "The effort, process (to convince the Left) is on. I have not lost hope," he said.
"I cannot say that I got a firm definite answer (from the Chinese), but my own feeling is that the relationship of trust and confidence is now being established, and we are succeeding in that. When the issue comes before the relevant agencies, I don't think that China will be an obstacle. I can't say that I have an assurance today," Dr. Singh said.
On the "Boundary Question" that has been a sticking point in Sino-Indian ties for more than four decades, the Prime Minister said that sticking points have been resolved, but "I cannot say at this stage whether this can be (completely) resolved in a few months."
"Progress has been made. Both President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao assured me that they have the political will just as India has the political will to make the necessary decision, and we decided to instruct our special representatives to accelerate the search for a positive framework, which will resolve this issue. The Two Special Representatives (M.K. Narayanan and Dai Binguo) have already set up a Working Group. Two alternate drafts are under consideration, which could be used for a final agreed framework. That process is on," he added.
National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan in a tete-a-tete with reporters reiterated the Prime Minister's views informally, when he said India and China were pursuing a step-by-step process on the border issue, and added that both sides were dealing with and resolving less complex aspects of the dispute first, and then would move on to the more complex ones.
The Prime Minister said that he had a very detailed discussion on the boundary issue with the Chinese leadership. Both sides agreed that it is a complex and complicated issue and that it would take time to resolve it.
The Special Representatives of the two countries have been given instruction to accelerate their efforts for an agreed framework for the resolution of the boundary problem, and pending a final settlement, both India and China have agreed that peace and tranquility should be maintained in accordance with the agreements already in place, and in accordance with the mechanisms which are well drawn for this purpose, Dr. Singh said.