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China PM wants to meet Manmohan Singh to sort out differences

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao indicated on Wednesday he wanted to discuss Sino-Indian differences with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Wen inquired from Murli Deora, the minister for petroleum & natural gas, if Singh will attend the meeting of the Association of South Eastern Nations in Thailand on October 23-25. When informed that Singh will attend the meeting, the Chinese premier said he was looking forward to meeting the Indian leader.

The Chinese premier conveyed his message a day after his government lodged a protest against Singh’s recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims to be an extension of Tibet and its own territory.

Wen met Deora soon after the Indian minister made an interesting pitch at the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. He said countries like India, who have observer status, should be allowed to participate in SCO’s Regional Counter Terrorism Structure (RCTS) along with full members.

If accepted by the SCO, India’s proposal will force Islamabad to share ground intelligence on the activities of terrorists and separatist groups sheltered in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and other Pakistani areas. In effect, New Delhi is lobbying SCO members like China and Russia to pressurize Pakistan to share information about terrorists, who have caused havoc in Mumbai and other places in India.

The message from New Delhi is that the SCO system must actually assist in the fight against terrorism by sharing intelligence about terrorist activities in the region if it wanted active cooperation from India.

Deora, who represented the prime minister at the SCO meeting, said that the “terrorist attack in Mumbai was a grim reminder of the transnational nature of terrorism.”

In his summing up remarks, Wen said he agreed with the Indian minister that the role of observers has increased with the passage of time. But there was no indication on whether Beijing would accept the Indian proposal for allowing observers to participate in the Tashkent based RCTS.

Both India and Pakistan observers and not full members of the SCO. Though Pakistani prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani lobbied for full membership for his country, New Delhi said it wants the role of observers to be heightened.

He said India was in favor of an early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the United Nations. Both China and Pakistan have not ratified the convention while India has done so. New Delhi is trying to get other countries to support the adoption of the convention at the UN.

Full members of the SCO are China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It has four observers: India, Iran, Pakistan and Mongolia.

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