BEIJING, June 7 � India and China today decided to hold crucial talks on cross-border rivers next month, amid New Delhi�s concerns over depletion of water levels in Brahmaputra, the lifeline of the Northeast, reports PTI.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jeichi held a very �smooth meeting� on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation�s summit here, with Beijing evincing interest in expanding its consulates in India to broaden Sino-Indian ties.
�Krishna observed that the relationship is going on smoothly than before and Yang agreed with it,� Indian officials said after the 45-minute meeting between the two.
Outlining China�s policy contours on India, Yang said there were �some minor differences� with New Delhi, but maintained that they will not disturb the working relationship and friendship between the two countries.
Strategic and cooperative partnership between India and China will enhance growth for both countries and is keenly watched by the world, Yang said during the meeting.
He said China will push forward developmental aspirations with India and handle �sensitive issues� very carefully keeping in mind the potential growth and economic ties with India and that is the view of the leadership of the two sides.
While reviewing the bilateral ties, the two ministers agreed to hold the official-level talks on cross-border rivers next month, for which the dates are yet to be fixed.
Though the two countries have no treaty relating to sharing of river waters, China shares annual data on the river waters, including that of Brahmaputra.
India attaches importance to the talks as reports from Arunachal Pradesh said water levels in the river have gone down significantly triggering concerns whether it was due to the dam being built by China on its side.
China has already clarified to India that it is only building a run-of-the-river dam without holding any significant quantity of water.
More clarifications were expected to be provided during next month�s meeting.
Interestingly, Yang during the course of his meeting with Krishna also conveyed China�s interest in expanding its consular presence in India.
China in the recent past had expressed its interest in opening a Consulate in Chennai in addition to its missions in Mumbai and Kolkata and embassy in Delhi.
According to officials here, Krishna has taken note of it, saying the matter would be discussed at the appropriate level.
Recent reports said India showed interest in opening its Consulate in Lhasa in Tibet, in addition to those in Shanghai and Guangzhou but the issue did not figure in today�s talks, according Indian officials.
Also, the two countries agreed to hold official-level talks on issues relating to Central and West Asia.
The issues concerning South China Sea, increasing US presence in Asia-Pacific, Kashmir or Tibet did not figure in the talks, officials said.
The two ministers devoted most of their meeting to discuss issues relating to trade and investments, the mainstay of bilateral ties, they said.
While Krishna referred to India�s familiar concerns relating to ballooning trade deficit which touched USD 27 billion, even though bilateral trade reached about USD 74 billion, Yang positively responded saying that China too is conducting its internal assessment to increase purchase of Indian goods.
India has been arguing that China should open up to IT, Pharama and agricultural products.
Krishna also invited more Chinese investments in India�s infrastructure development projects, promising level-playing field and non discriminatory approach to Chinese companies.
There was also discussion about the issue relating to the two stranded Indian traders, Shyam Sunder Agrawal and Deepak Raheja, who are fighting a case filed by Chinese suppliers from the commodity trade hub of Yiwu.
Krishna said New Delhi is aware that it is a civil dispute but at the same time added that it is getting negative publicity in India. Yang responded saying that the Chinese side is trying to move towards a quick solution.
The two traders are currently awaiting a judgement from an intermediate court where they argued that they were employees of a company owned by a Yemenese national who fled without paying heavy dues to the Chinese suppliers.
The two traders met Krishna here yesterday and expressed concern at the registration of a second case against them, four months after the first one was lodged.
The two ministers also discussed the positive momentum created by the visits of Chief Ministers of several Indian states, including Karnataka, Bihar, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Several Chinese provincial leaders also visited India.
India wants to continue the initiative and China welcomed it.
Krishna also told Yang that concerned Indian officials will be visiting China to follow up on India�s initiative to introduce Chinese language in CBSE schools.
China promised to train 100 teachers.