China backs India’s UNSC aspirations

Skirting contentious issues, visiting President Pratibha Patil on Thursday held discussions with the top Chinese leadership which supported India’s aspirations of becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a stand welcomed by the Indian side.

Ms Patil, the first Indian Head of State to visit this country in a decade, held wide-ranging discussions with her Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao as well as Premier Wen Jiabao after being accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of the People. At a glittering banquet hosted by Mr Hu, Ms Patil and her delegation were pleasantly surprised when the Chinese military band played old Bollywood numbers.
Controversial issues such as Chinese border incursions, stapled visas for Kashmiris, Indian visas for Chinese telcom companies and Sino-Pak ties did not figure in the discussions, which is not unusual for ceremonial visits.
Ms Patil sought Chinese support for New Delhi’s permanent membership of the UNSC during talks with Mr Hu, Mr Wen and the National People’s Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo, whose position is like that of the Lok Sabha Speaker.
Briefing reporters after the talks, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said that the Chinese leaders supported India’s aspirations for UNSC permanent seat and had assured the Indian leader that Beijing would back its bid in next year’s election for a non-permanent membership of the UNSC. Asked how this stand was different from Beijing’s earlier position, Ms Rao said that there was a greater degree of clarity in Chinese position on the permanent UNSC seat and this shows that they want to have a “positive engagement” with the Indian side on the issue. The Chinese position as elucidated during the talks lent greater legitimacy to India’s claim, according to Ms Rao, who was India’s ambassador to Beijing before her elevation to the current position. Ms Rao also said that on the UNSC issue the response by China was neither “guarded nor diplomatic”. There was a very positive “tone and tenor” in these meetings, and this is a very positive statement, she said. Ms Patil also took up the issue of trade imbalance in India-China trade ties with the Chinese leadership. —PTI

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