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Tibet no longer an issue in Sino-Indian ties: Chinese envoy

Saturday 2 April 2005, by BARUAH*Amit

NEW DELHI, APRIL 1. Tibet is no longer an "issue" in Sino-Indian relations, the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi, said at a press conference days before China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, is scheduled to arrive here on an official visit.

With India publicly stating in Beijing in June 2003 that it would not allow anti-China activities relating to Tibet, this had ceased to be a problem in bilateral relations between India and China, the Chinese Ambassador said. "It [Tibet] is totally an internal matter [for China]."

`Sikkim issue settled’

On Sikkim, he said the "issue" had been settled between India and China. "It is completely solved," he said when asked if anything more needed to be done. "There’s no problem [on Sikkim]."

Asked about the circulation of some maps at an international conference last year that showed Sikkim as an "independent State," he said that no such "maps" would be published afresh by the Chinese Government.

Welcoming the India-Pakistan peace process, he said that if China could do anything to bring the two countries closer, it was ready to do so. He strongly opposed the presence of foreign troops in other countries, stating that this job had to be done by the United Nations alone. India and Pakistan were like brothers and they had every reason to develop friendly relations.

An accord on the "guiding principles" to settle the boundary issue between India and China was likely to be agreed upon during Mr. Wen’s visit to India. The Special Representatives of the two countries were conducting negotiations on the issue, Mr. Sun said.

About a dozen agreements were to be signed during Mr. Wen’s visit. A joint study group on economic and trade issues had completed its task and would submit its report to the two Prime Ministers.

The Ambassador said China was in favour of a free trade area agreement with India. This would create the largest FTA in the world involving a population of 2.4 billion. Already, Sino-Indian trade had touched $13.6 billion in 2004.

Asked what he felt about the growing ties between India and the United States being perceived by some as a "counter" to China, Mr. Sun said U.S.-China ties themselves had been improving. Hoping that Indo-U.S. relations would develop further, Mr. Sun, however, stressed that these should not be targeted at any third country.

Arunachal `disputed’

On the boundary issue, Mr. Sun said the "so-called" State of Arunachal Pradesh was disputed territory. According to him, all disputed areas between India and China were now open for negotiation - leading to a resolution of their status.

Mr. Sun said a major effort would be made to clear the boundary dispute out of the way so that it did not stand in the path of developing better relations between India and China. The two premiers would discuss a range of international issues.

Apart from Nepal, India and China would discuss regional cooperation in groups such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, "the ASEAN plus three" and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

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