OT (Overseas Topic) China talks tough, tells India to halt N-arms plan

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China talks tough, tells India to halt N-arms plan


BEIJING: Maintaining its tough stand, China Tuesday asked India to renounce its nuclear weapons programme as the two countries concluded their first-ever security dialogue here.

New Delhi should implement in ``real earnest'' the UN Security Council resolution 1172 which asked both India and Pakistan to stop their nuclear weapons programme, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao told reporters on the conclusion of the two-day dialogue.

``As big countries in Asia, China and India bear important responsibilities for the maintenance of regional peace and stability,'' Zhu said.

He said the security dialogue between the two countries is ``conducive for the enhancement of understanding, expanding consensus and promoting cooperation.''

The Indian side at the talks was led by the external affairs ministry's joint secretary in charge of disarmament affairs, Rakesh Sood and the Chinese side by director- general of its foreign ministry Asian department, Zhang Jiuhuan.

Asked to comment on Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's recent comments that India would not renounce its nuclear deterrence, Zhu restated the Chinese position on the South Asian nuclear tests of May 1998 by asking India to implement the UN Security Council resolution.

Zhu pointed out that the UN Council, of which China is a permanent member, unanimously passed the resolution 1172, urging both India and Pakistan to renounce their nuclear weapons programme.

``So India should comprehensively implement the resolution 1172 in real earnest'', the spokesman added.

Indian official sources acknowledged that differences existed in Sino-Indian relations, especially on the nuclear issue. They said India used the meeting to explain its nuclear policy.

A senior Indian diplomat said India clearly told China that the resolution violated India's sovereign right to decide for its own security.

However, at the foreign ministry news conference, the Chinese spokesman declined to comment whether India and China discussed the South Asian nuclear issue during their security dialogue but said the two sides covered a wide range of issues concerning regional and international issues of common concern.

The decision to hold the security dialogue was taken during the visit of external affairs minister Jaswant Singh to Beijing last June which brought Sino-Indian relations back on the track after a chill following the Pokhran nuclear tests.

The sources said ``substantial progress'' was being made in several areas of mutual interest including the establishment of a multipolar world, terrorism and promoting regional cooperation. (PTI)

) Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. 2000.

-- Possible Impact (posim@hotmail.com), March 07, 2000

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