Chinese leader seeks central role in defusing conflict

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 22:26:35 +0100

China's president, Jiang Zemin, will meet the Indian and Pakistani
leaders at the Asian summit in Almaty today as Beijing shows increasing
concern over a conflict in which it cannot choose sides. 

The foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said yesterday that Mr Jiang
would urge President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and the Indian prime
minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to "show the utmost restraint" in order
to maintain peace and stability in south Asia. 

The Chinese media last night made much of Mr Jiang's presence at the
16-nation conference in the Kazakhstan city, portraying him as a
potential peacemaker. Mr Jiang has been in frequent touch with the US
administration and would like to be seen to play a significant
diplomatic role. 

The renewed Kashmir crisis comes at a time when China is seeking a more
balanced role in the south Asian region, in spite of its longstanding
close relationship with Pakistan. 

China and India have agreed to disagree on their longstanding border
dispute. While hardliners on both sides would oppose any territorial
exchange, both countries are working together to demarcate the actual
line of control. 

During a visit by India's foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, to China in
March this year, agreement was reached to began cooperation on
counter-terrorism. 

Meanwhile, China has sought new ground for agreement with Pakistan,
stressing its own problems with Muslim separatists in the western region
of Xinjiang. Last month Xinjiang officials revealed that Pakistan had
returned an alleged terrorist to China. 

Relations with Pakistan remain on a higher level than those with India,
and China continues to supply it with advanced weaponry including jet
fighters and - it is widely believed - missile-related technology. 

Chinese media coverage of the Kashmir crisis has reflected a variety of
views, indicating that authorities in Beijing are not attempting to
impose a uniform line. 

· India has asked Israel - one of its main arms suppliers - to speed up
the delivery of radar systems, observation balloons and communications
equipment, Israeli newspapers reported yesterday. 

Israel has sold £2bn in arms and military equipment to India since the
two countries established formal relations 10 years ago. 
Suzanne Goldenberg, Jerusalem 

Source:  The Guardian

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