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Press Briefing

'A Blueprint And Document Of Historic Significance'

Transcript of External Affairs Minister's Opening Remarks at Press Briefing held at Diplomat Hall, St. Regis Hotel, Beijing for Indian and foreign media on 24 June, 2003.

'A Blueprint And Document Of Historic Significance'
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'A Blueprint And Document Of Historic Significance'
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Last evening, Prime Minister and Premier Wen Jiabao signed the Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation between India and China. The Commerce Minister of China, Lu Fuyuan and I signed the Memorandum on Expanding Border Trade through Nathula Pass on the India China boundary. 

Today, Prime Minister had very useful and friendly conversations with President Hu Jintao, Chairman, Central Military Commission Jiang Zemin, NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo and Vice President Zeng Qinghong. All his interlocutors underlined that his visit has been very successful. The meetings enabled Prime Minister to establish a personal relationship with the new Chinese leadership. This is of particular importance since we expect our two countries to be working together more closely in the years ahead on the basis of agreements arrived at during this visit. 

The Declaration that you have before you is the first ever joint document signed by leaders of our two countries. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has described this Declaration as marking a new stage of development in our relations and a blueprint and document of historic significance. 

I would wish to highlight to you some of the main elements of the Declaration:

  • Progress in bilateral relations between India and China is conducive also to regional stability and prosperity. Our two countries have broad common interests. 
  • Cooperation between our two countries will strengthen multipolarity at the international level. 
  • India and China will build a qualitatively new relationship based on the principles of Panchsheel, mutual respect and sensitivity for each other's concerns and equality. 
  • Continued expansion and intensification of India-China economic cooperation. You have already heard of the Joint Study Group that the two Prime Ministers have set up and which is to report by the end of June 2004. This Group will examine the potential complementarities and also draw up a programme for the development of India-China trade and economic cooperation for the next five years. 
  • Both countries will open Cultural Centres in each other's capitals. 
  • Defence exchanges will be enhanced. 
  • On the boundary question, there are three aspects namely, continued maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas; continued implementation of the 1993 and 1996 agreements including clarification of the Line of Actual Control; and, appointment of a Special Representative by each side to explore from the political perspective of the overall bilateral relationship, the framework of a boundary settlement. 
  • There is agreement on a high-level dialogue architecture. Foreign Ministers are to meet annually. 
  • Both sides recognize the threat posed by terrorism to them and resolutely condemn terrorism in any form. 

A reading of the Declaration will bring out many more important facets of bilateral and international cooperation that have been agreed upon. 

The Memorandum on extending border trade is in pursuance of the existing agreements of 1991 and 1992 on border trade. You will recall that in 1993 there was another agreement adding border trade through Shipki La pass in Himachal Pradesh to the original agreement on Lipulekh pass. Border trade through these two passes in 2002-03 was a little under Rs.10 crores. 

Before we left India we had told you that we expect that the Prime Minister's visit to China, the first after almost a decade, will buttress the ongoing effort to construct an enduring and strong partnership between India and China based on the principles of Panchsheel, mutual sensitivity to each other's concerns and equality. I have no doubt that this objective has been achieved. 

I will take some more of your time and tell you about the meetings today. Our Prime Minister and President Hu Jintao recalled very warmly the meeting they had in St. Petersburg. President Hu Jintao said that the visit of the Prime Minister will send a message to the entire international community that China and India are coming closer together. A theme which came through repeatedly in all the meetings, was the commitment of both sides to impart a much greater momentum to our bilateral relationship in all spheres and build trust and confidence. The Prime Minister emphasized in all his meetings that his visit to China was meant to further build on the trust and confidence between the two countries and expand the area of understanding between the two countries. All the Chinese leaders that the Prime Minister met termed his visit as extremely successful and referred to the rich results. 

Our Prime Minister and President Hu Jintao agreed that both countries want to pursue the path of economic progress in their respective countries in an environment of peace in the region, as well as in the rest of the world, so that the ultimate objective that both countries have of providing a better life to their people could be achieved. The Prime Minister referred to the progress which China has made and compared his impressions of today with his earlier impressions when he came here in 1979 and again as a Member of Parliament in 1993 and complimented the Chinese leadership on the progress that they have made. In return, the Chinese leadership complimented the Prime Minister on the progress that India was making and also the very remarkable progress that India has made in certain spheres, especially in the area of science and technology. 

You heard the Prime Minister speak at the Business Forum. He emphasized the fact to the Chinese leadership that one of the main objectives of his visit was to strengthen the economic relationship and that is why he has brought the largest-ever business delegation that has travelled with the Prime Minister and that this will contribute to the enhancement of our relationship in the economic area.

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