Congress denies snubbing of Chinese foreign minister

September 10th, 2008 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Sep 10 (IANS) The Congress, which leads India’s ruling coalition, Wednesday denied reports that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was denied an appointment with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi.“The story was incorrect and without basis as no such meeting was scheduled,” Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

“It is unwarranted and unfortunate that it has been connected to the developments at the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group). The Congress party and the Communist Party of China have a long-standing relationship and they recently signed a memorandum of understanding too,” Ahmed told reporters here.

According to reports, Yang, here since Sunday on his maiden India visit as foreign minister, had sought a meeting with Gandhi Tuesday morning but he was denied an appointment. The reports quoted official sources as saying that though the Chinese side had set aside a slot between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in Yang’s schedule for the meeting with Gandhi, the Indian side did not finalise it.

Instead, the Chinese foreign minister went on a short tour of Delhi, visiting some museums.

Asked if the Chinese foreign minister had made a request for a meeting, Ahmed said such requests are made to the foreign ministry, which would be able to comment on this.

Yang called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday and had a detailed discussion on the entire gamut of bilateral relations with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday.

The reported decision not to confirm a Yang-Gandhi meeting was seen as India’s way of showing displeasure at the “questionable role” China played at the NSG meeting in Vienna last weekend.

After a three-day marathon meet, the 45-member nuclear cartel finally agreed to award a waiver to India to commence nuclear commerce with its NSG members.

All decisions in the NSG are taken by consensus and the Chinese have argued that since the waiver was finally given to India it was proof that China did not block the process.

The issue of China’s role at the NSG was raised during talks between Yang and Mukherjee.

Yang on his part made it clear that China had not played a “spoiler’s role” as had been suggested in certain quarters and said it had always played a constructive part in the NSG.

New Delhi, meanwhile, made sure the issue did not cloud the overall atmosphere of bilateral relations.

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