New Delhi/Beijing, July 1 (Calcutta Tube) Days before Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari goes to China to firm up a nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is sending National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon Saturday as his special envoy to Beijing on a four-day visit during which he is also expected to hold the next round of boundary talks.
Menon will meet senior Chinese leaders, including Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and State Councillor Dai Bingguo, and discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues.
The two sides announced the visit in New Delhi and Beijing Thursday.
‘The two sides will exchange views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of common interest,’ Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing.
Menon, also India’s representative for the boundary dispute, is expected to hold the 14th round of border talks with China’s Special Representative Dai Bingguo, who is also China’s vice foreign minister.
The last round of boundary talks was held in August last year when India was represented by Menon’s predecesor, M.K. Narayanan.
During the last 13 rounds of negotiations, the two sides have made some progress but a breakthrough is still not in sight.
Menon’s visit takes place against the backdrop of India’s mounting concerns over the China-Pakistan nuclear deal which New Delhi fears could impact negatively on the global non-proliferation regime.
In his talks, Menon is expected to seek more details about China’s plan to build two additional nuclear reactors for Pakistan and convey New Delhi’s concern over the arrangement.
Menon will leave Beijing July 6 when Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will land in the Chinese capital with a view to firming up a nuclear deal for supply of two new nuclear reactors to Islamabad.
In its recent meeting at Christchurch, New Zealand, the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group sought more consultations and transparency over the proposed deal which goes against existing rules of not doing atomic trade with a country which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
‘The civilian nuclear energy cooperation is bilateral and mutually beneficial and it is only between the two countries and not targeting a third country,’ Qin said recently in Beijing, in response to a question about India’s concerns over China’s plans to build 650 mw reactors at Chashma in Pakistan’s Punjab province.