India, China to discuss Masood Azhar in first strategic dialogue

India, China to discuss Masood Azhar in first strategic dialogue

Beijing can not support sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar because New Delhi is not providing any "solid evidence", China said on Friday ahead of next week's strategic dialogue between the two countries.

China and India will hold their first Strategic Dialogue on February 22 in Beijing, during which the two sides will discuss key issues of mutual concern and interest, including "friction points", Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said yesterday. "China hopes this will give a further boost to bilateral political mutual trust, strategic consensus and the strategic cooperative partnership between China and India". He added that the concerned members of the committee are in consultation but they haven't yet reached a consensus. He said other non-NPT state parties have also made applications, and Beijing's position on those applications is the same.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing on Friday about the Masood Azhar issue: "China upholds principles of objectivity, impartiality and professionalism and takes part in relevant discussions".

Asserting that China's stand on the matter is "consistent", Geng said that other non-NPT state parties, apart from India, were also making applications.

At an event hosted by a Mumbai-based think tank earlier this week, Jaishankar said that "if there is one relationship that we need to work on, it's the China one"-an indication that India was conscious of its complex ties with its northern neighbour. Our position on those applications is consistent", he said".

On Masood Azhar and the NSG, Geng stated China's current stand, offering no new position. The issue, along with the issue of nuclear supplier group or NSG, has led to differences between the two countries.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said foreign secretary S. Jaishankar would discuss with executive vice-chairman of China Hang Yesui "all issues of mutual interest in bilateral, regional and global domain", foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Thursday.

Geng said, "Differences are only natural".

"Despite some differences between China and India, the two sides can carry on in-depth communication, including the forthcoming dialogue, to narrow differences and expand cooperation", he said. "China and India are the two largest developing counties. That can contribute to our solidarity".