India raised the issue of blacklisting Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar with China as Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi and told him that Beijing needed to be “sensitive” to New Delhi’s concerns…writes GAURAV SHARMA
On a two-day China visit, Gokhale is understood to have made attempts to convince Wang Yi not to block a resolution to declare Azhar an international terrorist at a UN panel.
China in the past has repeatedly blocked all such resolutions by India, the US, Britain and France by placing a “technical hold” on them at the UN 1267 sanctions committee.
This has soured China’s ties with India where Azhar is wanted for plotting deadly terror attacks. Azhar heads a Pakistani terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed that claimed responsibility for killing 40 killing CRPF personnel in a suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir in February.
Last month, Beijing’s placed its latest “technical hold” on the US-sponsored resolution against Azhar, a move that India called “disappointing”.
The US had slammed Beijing’s move, drafting and circulating its own draft resolution against Azhar at UN Security Council.
Gokhale’s visit comes at a time when Beijing is facing mounting international pressure to declare Azhar an international terrorist.
According to sources, the issue of designation of Masood Azhar as an international terrorist was figured in Gokhale’s meet with Wang, who is also China’s Foreign Minister.
In his opening remarks Gokhale said: “We will work together with the Chinese side to deepen mutual understanding, strengthen mutual trust to implements the decisions that are taken by the leaders and do it in a manner where we are sensitive to each other’s concerns,” Gokhale said while meeting Wang and Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou.
Gokhale, who was also India’s former Ambassador to China, said both sides were working to implement what was agreed between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Wuhan summit last year.
“It’s been a year since our leaders met in Wuhan and my colleagues, Vice (Foreign) Minister Kong Xuanyou and I have been following up on efforts to see that to implement the understandings that were reached at the meeting.
“Last year, we had very brisk political exchanges including your visit to Delhi for the first high-level meeting between for people to people exchange was an important development. And my Minister (Foreign) looks forward to coming for the second meeting in China later this year,” he added.
Wang stressed the need for India and China to step up strategic communication and cooperation.
“China and India are two major countries and neighbours. They are also two emerging market countries and are each other’s emerging partners.
“In this sense, it’s very important for the two countries to work together to increase strategic communications even the geopolitical trust and strategic cooperation on international and regional issues.”
Gokhale’s visit also comes in the same week as Beijing holds the second edition of the Belt and Road forum, which New Delhi is highly likely to skip over the issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
It is to be seen if India’s opposition to the Belt and Road forum will figure in the talks.
India is likely to skip for the second straight year China’s Belt and Road forum, a mega event that Beijing claims will be attended by the heads of 37 countries and over 100 international organisations.
The Belt and Road is a trillion-dollar project that aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe through a network of highways, sea lanes and ports.
India opposes its key artery, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as it cuts through the disputed part of Kashmir held by Islamabad.
In 2017, India had boycotted the launch of the forum over the same issue.
In a press conference on April 20, Wang appealed to India again to shed its inhibition on the CPEC, saying the project has nothing to do with the Kashmir issue.
He said India joining the Belt and Road project will be a good choice for it.