NSA Downplays Sino-India Map Row
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National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon today downplayed the recent "map row" with China contending that the issue required to be looked at in the perspective of boundary talks which have made progress.

"I think you need to see these things in some perspective. We do have differences on where the boundary lies. We are discussing them. We have made progress in dealing with that," Menon said in reply to questions on China issuing e-passports that show Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as part of China.

The National Security Adviser (NSA) said Chinese documents show their version of the boundary, while Indian documents show "our version of the boundary".

Menon's comments come in the wake of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid terming the Chinese actions as "unacceptable".

"What has changed? Chinese have a view on where the boundary lies, which is why we are having discussions on the boundary because we have differences on where the boundary is," Menon said after releasing six books on China at the Observer Research Foundation here.

"Chinese chose to put a watermark on their passports which shows the boundaries as they see it. We show our boundary as we see it on visas that we issue. So, what has changed. On our documents we continue to show what we regard as our boundary, they show their claims on their documents," he said.

Menon said India and China have agreed on a three-stage process for settle the boundary issue.

"We are in the process of agreeing on a framework to settle the boundary and the next step, hopefully the third stage, is to actually agree on a boundary. Right now we are at the second stage," he said.

Menon said India and China were in the process of diversifying their economic relationship to investments and co-production.

India is looking at Chinese investments in infrastructure projects and also exploring the possibility of jointly setting up manufacturing plants here with an eye on creating more job opportunities in this country in the second India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue underway here.

Menon said India-China relations presented a complex picture of opportunities and congruences which far outweigh the differences.

"Where are these opportunities and congruences? They are in the economic complementarities that rapid development has created in both the countries," he said.

Noting that China was India's largest trading partner in goods, Menon said, "We are in the process of diversifying the economic relationship to investments and co-production while we try and work to restore the trade balance.

"The opportunities to work together on subjects of common concern -- whether energy security, food security climate change -- here are not just congruences in multilateral negotiating positions but they also form the basis for practical bilateral cooperation and trade," he said.

The NSA said these opportunities could only be seized because the two countries have shown the ability to manage their bilateral differences whether on boundary, trans-border rivers or other questions.
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