Wen and Singh Discuss ‘Core Issues’ at ASEAN Meeting in Hanoi

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Wen to Visit India in December

Nov. 1 – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met on the sidelines of the 17th ASEAN summit in Hanoi on Friday. The two leaders publicly affirmed their commitment to maintaining friendly relations, but planned to discuss sensitive issues in the future. Wen is slated to visit India by the end of the year, a move that Singh greeted with enthusiasm.

Tensions have been high since this past July when Beijing tried to issue a paper visa instead of stamping the passport of India’s Northern Area Commander Lt. Gen. BS Jaswal.

Though China has long issued paper visas for residents from that area, Beijing’s oversight was taken as a slight to India’s claims of territorial sovereignty in the northern parts of the country, specifically Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. India reacted in kind by suspending defense cooperation for which Jaswal was traveling to Beijing. India has said these talks will remain suspended until China changes its position on the issue.

The recent meeting in Hanoi, the first top-level contact since July’s incident, seemed to have thawed the ice a bit.

“The prime minister spoke of the need to show sensitivity to each other’s core issues,” said Shivshankar Menon, India’s national security adviser, according to The Times of India.

But Menon avoided the visa issue, saying only “we were instructed, SRs and officials on both sides, to prepare for Wen Jiabao’s visit and work our way to solutions to all issues that are difficult in our relationship, including the boundary question,” when asked by reporters.

“We will continue the process of engagement and continue to deal with issues that concern us,” he added.

The two leaders also discussed their economic ties. Referring back to Singh’s sentiment that there is room for both countries to achieve high-income status, Wen added “there is enough space in the world for India and China to have cooperation.”

Wen also mentioned that Singh had extended invitations to visit India a number of times before. Singh noted the two have met 10 times in the past six years, and welcomed Wen’s recent decision to visit India.

“You are the architect of the strategic cooperative partnership which both countries signed during your first visit to India in 2005. Our relations have evolved satisfactorily. We are very satisfied with the growth of trade and economic relations between India and China,” he told Wen.

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