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Transcript of Media Briefing by Foreign Secretary following India-China Strategic Dialogue

February 22, 2017

Foreign Secretary, Dr. S Jaishankar: We just finished a long round of talks what was the restructured strategic dialogue with my counterpart who is the Executive Vice Minister in the Chinese Foreign Ministry Mr. Zhang Yesui. I had yesterday called on the State Counsellor Mr. Yang Jiechi. This morning I met Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi. We really reviewed the entirety of our relationship i.e. both the bilateral side as well as the international, regional issues. The exchange of views was very in-depth and was backed by a team of senior officials on our side who separately held discussions on specific areas which included Afghanistan, multilateral diplomacy including counter-terrorism and also bilateral relations as well as the nuclear issues.

As you may expect, clearly the entire exercise was useful for us and I am sure it was for them as well. It was a fairly long session as we had around five hours of talks today. There were areas where we forged ahead, particularly on the bilateral side where we worked on the calendar of activities and priorities for us to share.

We had a very useful exchange on international issues. They shared their insights and perspectives. It was important at this time because the feeling was that the international situation is in flux and both India and China have been beneficiaries of a stable and open international system and at this time probably one thing that we could do together was a more stable, substantive, forward looking India-China relationship which would inject a greater amount of predictability into the international system.

In terms of some of the key issues, I would say that we had particularly useful session on Afghanistan where we spoke about cooperating on developmental activities including capacity building in Afghanistan. We had an exchange of views on south-south cooperation on BRICS where China would be the Chair this year i.e. on expanding activities under the BRICS, on our impending entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization where China has supported that entry as well as some other issues which you know have been point of issue between us.

On the NSG issue the Chinese side underlined that they were open to India’s application for membership but they had their view of procedures and processes and these were somewhat different from where we are at the moment and where we think most of the group is at the moment.

On the issue of the 1267 Committee sanctions on Masood Azhar, we again explained to them the rationale for that application and pointed out today that this was really being pursued by other countries, not by India alone. The fact that other countries were pressing this application showed that there was broad international support for this and concerns about Masood Azhar’s activities.

Another issue which came was trade and economic cooperation. We made our concerns about the trade deficit very clear to the Chinese side and it was agreed that the Joint Economic Group which is headed by CI will meet early to review this. The Chinese have taken some measures but clearly these haven’t addressed the problem in a substantive way.

In terms of the forward progress there was a recognition that the investment climate has improved in India. Chinese FDI has gone up very substantially. The fact that today visas and exchanges between us are going much better. An overall sense that in the last 7 or 8 years the relation has really broadened out very much that today it is not just between the Central Governments and the Foreign Ministries, today we have very robust defence exchanges, security exchanges, economic exchanges, sister city relationships, academic interaction etc. We expect a meeting in China this year of both the Think Tank Forum and Media Forum.

So overall I would say that I felt my visit was useful in conveying to the Chinese side our priorities and concerns and also gaining from them an appreciation of their understanding of the world situation and in what manner we could work together.

Thank you very much.

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