NEW DELHI: China’s ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui on Monday said “some Indian friends” had suggested an India-China-Pakistan trilateral dialogue under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
While the Indian Ministry of External Affairs remained silent, India has been traditionally and vehemently opposed to any third party involvement in its long-standing spat with Pakistan.
“Some Indian friends suggested that India, China & Pakistan may have some kind of trilateral summit on the sidelines of SCO. So, if China, Russia & Mongolia can have a trilateral summit, then why not India, China & Pakistan?” Luo asked, while delivering the opening remarks at a seminar titled “beyond Wuhan: how far can China-India relations go” in New Delhi.
India and Pakistan were admitted to the Eurasian geostrategic platform last year, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the SCO summit as a full member 9-10 June in Qingdao, China, where he also had a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“The Qingdao meeting is essentially the continuation of the Wuhan informal summit (April 27-28). In Wuhan, the summit created a new model of engagement between the two leaders. It is of great significance, fruitful and a milestone in the history of bilateral relations,” he said.
“China-India relations have gone beyond bilateral scope. We have broad converging interests and face common challenges in Asia and beyond. We need to enhance coordination & cooperation in SCO, BRICS, G20 and join hands to tackle global challenges,” he argued, disclosing that the decision to cooperate in Afghanistan taken at Wuhan would start off with a joint training programme for Afghan civil servants.
"Besides the informal summits, the two leaders (Modi and Xi) agreed to maintain strategic communication in different forms such as phone conversation, correspondence, meetings," Luo said. "Certainly they will meet again during BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in South Africa in July and probably G20 Summit in Argentina in November."
Listing his four-point vision for the future of China India cooperation, which included a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, a bilateral Free Trade Agreement, enhancing connectivity and “work for early harvest on boundary issues,” Luo said "India is our immediate neighbor. It's quite natural to have differences with neighbors. We need to narrow differences through expanding cooperation. However, it does not mean that differences would be ignored. We need to control, manage & narrow differences through expanding cooperation. The boundary question was left over by history. We need to find a mutual acceptable solution through Special Representatives' Meeting while adopting confidence building measures. ”
Noting that the Chinese Defence Minister and Minister for Public Security would visit India soon and that the Special Representatives' meeting on the boundary issue will be held in Beijing this year, he said: "The two Foreign Ministers (Sushma Swaraj of India and Wang Yi of China) will co-chair the first meeting of high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange mechanism."
The seminar, organised by the Chinese embassy in collaboration with FICCI, The Foreign Correspondents Club of South and the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents, had diplomats, business men and academicians discuss ways to improve relations and address the trust deficit the plagues the two nations.
Suggestions ranged from academic and cultural exchanges, a freeze on the border, a visa free regime, a statutory body to ramp up trade and tourism, and allowing Chinese movies to be shot in India and vice versa.