China on anvil, Indian PM lands in Hanoi (Roundup)

October 28th, 2010 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Minu Jain
Hanoi, Oct 28 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here Thursday evening on the last leg of his three-nation Asia tour to attend the India-Asean and the East Asia summits, with the spotlight swivelling to his meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Manmohan Singh, who flew into the Vietnamese capital after concluding comprehensive economic pacts with Japan and Malaysia, will continue bilateral engagements here too beginning with discussions with Premier Wen and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Friday morning.

If China will be one preoccupation, the US is likely to be another in the prime ministerial delegation’s packed three days here.

The time in Hanoi will also see Indian officials interact on issues such as outsourcing with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s entourage here ahead of the visit of US President Barack Obama on Nov 6, sources said.

Bilaterals with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard are also scheduled besides a courtesy call on Vietnam Premier Nguyen Tan Dung.

The meeting with the Chinese premier comes in the backdrop of continuing unease in the relations between the two countries on varied, long standing issues, including a border row and China’s insistence on giving stapled visas to Kashmiris.

The Manmohan-Wen meeting comes soon after China’s reiteration two days ago that it will continue to give only stapled visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir - Beijing’s way of disputing New Delhi’s right over the troubled state held in part by Pakistan.

Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and there should be a uniform practice of issuing visas regardless of ethnicity, Indian sources reacted. New Delhi would continue to articulate its stated position.

“I see no reason why the meeting should not be substantive, cordial and productive,” said an informed source, pointing out that it was Manmohan Singh who had said in Malaysia Wednesday that the world “was large enough to accommodate the growth ambitions of both countries”.

Setting right the atmospherics before the meeting, the sources said China was a major trading partner with bilateral trade at $60 billion but there was an imbalance with India being a major importer of Chinese goods.

India was now looking at access to its various industries in the Chinese market, particularly pharmaceuticals.

The issues had been freely discussed between the two populous countries who are also neighbours and major economic powers, caught in an “intense relationship”.

With South Korea, one outstanding issue is that of the $12 billion mega steel project by South Korean major Posco in Orissa, caught in disputes over issues related to land and environment.

“If (Posco) comes up during the meetings, we will be able to reassure South Korea that (Korean) investment will continue,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is accompanying the prime minister, said.

As for Australia, hate crimes against Indians in the country was likely to be on the anvil amongst other discussion issues.

“India has often expressed its concerns about hate crimes in Australia. The Australian government too has conveyed how it is dealing with the issue. We have full confidence we will continue to discuss the issue in a cordial way,” an informed source said, adding the talks scheduled for Saturday would be broad based.

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