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China, India leaders to set up hotline

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China and India agreed to set up a top level hotline on Wednesday, sealing a “cordial” Beijing visit by India’s foreign minister that consolidated an improvement in ties between the sometimes fractious neighbors.


China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (R) shakes hands with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna at Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing April 7, 2010.

Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna began his four-day visit on Monday — scant months after tempers flared over reports of border incursions and a row over the Dalai Lama’s visit to the disputed frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh.

But Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters the trip had gone well, and both sides were pleased with the new mechanism connecting the Chinese and Indian Prime Ministers, which could help prevent dangerous flare-ups in future.

“These have been cordial, useful, constructive and wide-ranging discussions,” she told a news conference in Beijing.

“The agreement to establish a hotline is an important confidence building measure and it opens up a direct channel of communication between the two leaders.”

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the relationship had reached a “new phase of mature and stable development” in a meeting with Krishna in the Chinese leadership’s Zhongnanhai compound.

“History shows that friendship between neighbors and common development are in the interests of both countries, of Asia and of the world,” Wen added.

Plans for a hotline were made by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a summit last year of the BRIC nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China, Rao said.

That group will meet again next week in Brasilia, for the second leaders summit, and both China and India highlighted the importance and benefit of cooperation on international issues.

“What came across during these discussions was that this relationship between the two countries has more than just a bilateral dimension, it has a global impact, and that a long-term strategic view is required of this relationship,” Rao said.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said the two countries worked together well on major global issues including combating the financial crisis and tackling climate change, according to the foreign ministry’s account of the meeting with Krishna, posted on its website (www.fmprc.gov.cn)

“China attaches great importance to bilateral ties and is willing to work hard with India for new developments, taking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as a turning point,” Yang said.

SECURITY CONCERNS

Regional security, particularly in volatile Afghanistan, and the threat of terrorism were among other key issues discussed in the meeting, said Rao, herself a former ambassador to Beijing.

“Foreign Minister Yang said that both China and India should stay in touch on these issues and remain in regular contact… particularly on Afghanistan,” said Rao.

Krishna was visiting just a couple of weeks after Afghan President Hamid Karzai came to Beijing to ask China to use its diplomatic clout with neighboring Pakistan to help rein in a growing insurgency. His government has good ties with Delhi.

The foreign ministers did not discuss a recently released report that a cyber-espionage group apparently based in southwest China stole documents from the Indian Defense Ministry and emails from the Dalai Lama’s office, Rao said.

The report by Canadian researchers said the spy network was likely run by individuals with connections to the Chinese criminal underworld. Information might have been passed to branches of the Chinese government, it added.

Beijing has repeatedly and strongly denied it condones hacking in any way, pointing out that its ministries and companies are also frequently targeted.

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