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Doval, Yang to discuss Belt-and-Road Initiative

Doval, Yang to discuss Belt-and-Road Initiative Anirban Bhaumik, New Delhi, DH News Service, Nov 14 2017, 19:41 IST Doval will host Yang for the 20th round of India-China boundary negotiations, either by the end of this month or next month. reuters file photo

Doval will host Yang for the 20th round of India-China boundary negotiations, either by the end of this month or next month. reuters file photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi are likely to discuss New Delhi's concerns over Beijing's Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) during their forthcoming meeting.

Doval will host Yang for the 20th round of India-China boundary negotiations, either by the end of this month or next month. In addition to boundary negotiations, they are also likely to hold discussions on India's concerns over the Belt-and-Road Initiative of China, sources told DH.

India has since long been opposing the ambitious cross-continental connectivity initiative of China, but of late signalled its openness to "any effort" that could address its "legitimate concerns" over the mega project.

Sources in New Delhi said that Doval and Yang might even hold a separate meeting to discuss the Belt-and-Road Initiative on the sidelines of boundary negotiations.

Doval and Yang are special representatives of India and China, not only for boundary negotiations, but also for strategic consultations between the neighbours.

India has been terming the BRI as a "unilateral connectivity initiative" of China.

New Delhi has been arguing that connectivity initiatives must be "based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality". It has also been pointing out that the initiatives must follow "principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities" and must be pursued "in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity" of all nations.

Economic corridor

A key component of the BRI, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), will link Kashgar in Xinjiang in north-western China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan. New Delhi has been opposed to the economic corridor as it is proposed to pass through parts of Kashmir India claims as its own and accuses Pakistan of illegally occupying.

Beijing, however, has been maintaining that the CPEC was an economic cooperation project and it was not targeted at any third party and did not involve territorial disputes.

New Delhi last week reiterated its opposition to the BRI, but signalled its openness for talks with Beijing on the issue. This came after Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said Moscow would like Beijing and New Delhi to resolve their differences on the project through parleys.

Beijing also indicated last week that it still remained "quite open" to cooperation with New Delhi on the BRI.

New Delhi apparently does not want to be seen shying away from a dialogue with Beijing on the BRI, particularly as both sides are trying to bring the troubled India-China ties back on track after the recent 72-day military face-off at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan.

Beijing may make yet another attempt to get New Delhi join the BRI when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will come here next month for the Russia-India-China trilateral. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is hosting the trilateral meeting, which will also be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Sushma and Wang are likely to have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the trilateral meet.

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