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APEC doors open for India, President Xi, Sushma Swaraj discuss progress in ties

Swaraj also said the RIC has supported a 1996 proposal tabled by India in the United Nations on countering terrorism.

Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Xi Jinping, India China ties, Sushma Swaraj China visit, Indo china relations China Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. (Source: AP photo)

India will soon be a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a powerful international grouping of 21 countries including the United States and Japan, which promotes free trade among its members.

At the end of the 13th meeting of RIC (Russia, India, China) foreign ministers, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday, “India’s participation in APEC has been welcomed by both China and Russia.”

READ: New year, new progress: Chinese President Xi Jinping to Sushma Swaraj

During the BRICS summit in Fortaleza in Brazil last July, Chinese President Xi Jinping had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the APEC trade forum meeting in Beijing in November 2014, but New Delhi later realised this was only a side event, and did not participate.

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“Acknowledging India’s important role in driving global economic growth, and supporting the openness of APEC, China and Russia would welcome India’s participation in APEC,” the joint communique issued after the RIC foreign ministers meeting stated.

“Russia and China have also welcomed our participation in SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation),” Swaraj said. SCO, formed in 2001, is a Eurasian bloc that includes Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan besides China and Russia.

READ: India, China bound by ‘unbreakable bond’: PM Narendra Modi

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The joint communique, however, said, “China and Russia welcomed India’s application for full membership of SCO and supported India to join the SCO after completing all necessary negotiations and legal processes.”

Swaraj also said the RIC has supported a 1996 proposal tabled by India in the United Nations on countering terrorism. “Both Russia and China have accepted the proposal,” she said, indicating that the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) may finally see the light of day.

READ: China doesn’t need to be threatened by US-India ties: Barack Obama

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The joint statement, however, left scope for interpretation. “They (RIC) called for early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism,” it said.

Earlier in the day, Swaraj had a 30-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China before May 26. “It was a short courtesy meeting,” an External Affairs Ministry official said.

The meeting took stock of the progress on talks that Xi and Modi had had in September in India. The Chinese President said his visit had been productive, and thanked the Prime Minister for receiving and hosting him. While India has suggested likely dates for the PM’s visit, China has said it would revert with the dates that were mutually convenient.

“I have full confidence in India-China relations, and I believe that new progress will be achieved in growing this bilateral relationship in this new year,” Xi told Swaraj, PTI reported. “The positive side of India-China relations has been growing, momentum of our cooperation has been strengthening and solid steps are being taken to implement agreements reached between Prime Minister Modi and me,” the President said.

Swaraj also had a bilateral meeting with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. This was their first meeting after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in December. The two ministers had discussions on the high-level bilateral interactions that are likely during the year, including at the BRICS summit in Russia in July.

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During the day, Swaraj launched the Visit India programme along with Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang. The tourism programme, to be jointly promoted by the two countries, will strive to increase the number of outbound tourists from China to India in 2015. And 2016 will be a Visit China Year in India.

The minister interacted with a select group of industrialists and representatives from think tanks  and chambers of commerce over lunch. Several companies evinced interest in setting up manufacturing bases in India, and sought simplification of visa procedures.

First published on: 03-02-2015 at 03:16:52 am
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