India attaches highest priority to ties with China: Parrikar

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Agencies
Beijing, Apr 18: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that India attaches highest priority to its ties with China, allaying Beijing’s concerns over New Delhi’s any tilt towards the US in view of its decision to sign an agreement with Washington to share military bases.
In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan, Parrikar said that “India attaches highest priority to relations with China and was committed to further developing friendly and cooperative relations with China”.
Allaying China’s concerns over India’s decision to sign Logistics Support Agreement with the US, Parrikar told the Chinese leader that India pursued autonomous policy to further its national interests and there is no change in it.
“India is committed to further developing friendly and corporative relations with China,” he told Chang.
Parrikar later met China’s highest military official Gen Fan Changlong, the Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, which is the overall commanding body of the 2.3 million strong military. It is headed by President Xi Jinping.
The defence minister would meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang tomorrow and later visit Chengdu, the headquarters of recently integrated western command military which has jurisdiction over entire borders with India.
While the two countries discussed expediting efforts to establish hotline between the two military headquarters and more confidence building measures like opening of more border points for interactions with troops on the grounds, Parrikar reiterated India’s stand for demarcation of the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) which was proposed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China last year.
China, however, expressed reservations over such a move.
Terming the recurring incidents of Chinese troops entering what India claims as its territory as “transgressions not incursions”, Parrikar said clarity over LAC will bring down tensions between the troops on both sides which aggressively patrol the areas to assert their control.
“We are insisting it should be done in order to really ensure a very stable border…because all the issues take place because of perception,” he said.
Marking the LAC is “one of the preconditions of smooth border operations. Without that everything goes by perceptions…which has caused problems sometimes”, he said.
The issue was expected to be further discussed during 19th round of boundary talks between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi here this week.
The two officials were designated Special Representatives to address the boundary dispute.
Raises JeM chief issue with China
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today firmly conveyed India’s reservations to Chinese leaders over Beijing blocking its efforts to get Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN.
In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan, Parrikar said that “India attaches highest priority to relations with China and was committed to further developing friendly and cooperative relations with China”.
While expressing India’s wish to engage China closely, he firmly conveyed New Delhi’s reservations over Beijing’s move in the UN to block bid to get Jaish-e-Muhammad chief banned.
“We expressed what happened in the UN is not in the right direction and they have to take a common line on terrorism which is in the interests of India and China,” Parrikar later told the Indian media here.
He said the Chinese officials in response noted India’s concerns.
Last month, China had vetoed India’s bid to get Azhar designated as terrorist by the UN Sanctions Committee, maintaining that the case “did not meet the requirements” of the Security Council.
India believes Azhar is the mastermind behind several attacks in the country, including the terror strike on an air base in Pathankot early this year.
“We have made our stand very clear on India’s reservation in regard to China’s activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)” where Pakistan and China are building a USD 46 billion Economic Corridor linking the two countries, Parrikar said.
The Chinese officials in turn explained that it is an economic project and not aimed against India.
“Basically our concerns were noted by them and I expect them to act,” Parrikar said, adding that more engagement between the two countries would address such issues in future, while immediate response cannot be expected.
He later met China’s highest military official Gen Fan Changlong, the Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, which is the overall commanding body of the 2.3 million strong military. It is headed by President Xi Jinping.
The defence minister would meet Premier Li Keqiang tomorrow and later visit Chengdu, the headquarters of recently integrated western command military which has jurisdiction over entire borders with India.