Cha-Am Hua Hin (Thaliland): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao met on Saturday to discuss bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern against the backdrop of the war of words between the two neighbours over Arunachal Pradesh.
Singh, who arrived in Thailand on Friday, held crucial bilateral talks with Wen on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in a Thai beach resort.
In his opening remarks during the meeting, Wen said, “we want to have healthy and steady relationship with India.”
Singh congratulated Wen on 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
Their meeting came as the two countries struck conciliatory notes after provocative statements from China on Arunachal Pradesh evoked a sharp reaction from India.
China regards Arunachal Pradesh a disputed territory and objected to Singh’s visit there for Assembly polls, triggering sharp reaction from India which asserted that the state is an integral part of the country.
“Bilateral relationship will be in focus”, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on Saturday night ahead of the meeting between Singh and Wen.
Rao said the relationship between the two countries is a “complex one” though it has “developed in many areas” in recent years.
“You are aware of the outstanding issues that remain to be resolved between India and China and obviously in meetings of this nature, especially meetings between leadership at the highest level, there is an opportunity to address all these issues,” Rao said.
While receiving Singh warmly at the venue of the meeting in Dusit Thani hotel, Wen described him as an old friend and recalled their several previous meetings.
“In the years ahead we are confident that we will have good relations,” the Chinese Premier said.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary T K A Nair and Joint Secretary (East Asia) N Ravi attended the meeting from the Indian side.
Other issues which recently led to a verbal spat between the two fastest growing economies in the world included China issuing visas to people from Jammu and Kashmir on loose sheets. India had also said that the Chinese developmental activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were not in the interest of the Sino-India ties.
Concerns have also been expressed, especially by the north-eastern states like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, over reports of China building dams on its side of the river Brahmputra.