India likely to skip Belt and Road summit in China today

Beijing
13 May 2017

India will skip China s high-profile Belt and Road summit beginning here from Sunday in view of sovereignty concerns related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the initiative that is expected to play a dominant role in the two-day meet.

While there is no official word, informed sources told news agency PTI that India will not take part in the meet, contrary to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's announcement that India will have a representative at the Belt and Road Forum (BRF), a prestigious initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping. "Although Indian leader is not here, India will have a representative," Wang had told journalists here on April 17 without specifying who would be representing India.

It was a tough call for India to take as China in the last few days has managed to rope in a number of western countries, including the US which yesterday agreed to send a top official after Washington clinched a lucrative trade deal. Playing down India s absence at the meeting, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media on Friday that the Indian scholars would be attending the meeting.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said China supports dialogue between Pakistan and India as the "most viable solution" to the Kashmir issue as he met his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang here. "On the Kashmir issue, China has always been supportive of Pakistan's stance and has assured to continue extending the same cooperation in future as well," Sharif told media here after his meeting with Li. Pakistan's state-run APP news agency quoted the Pakistan Prime Minister as saying that both Pakistan and China favoured negotiations with India as the "most viable solution to the Kashmir dispute."

Sharif's comments followed recent clarification by China over India's objections to the China-Pakistan Economic (CPEC) Corridor which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had told PTI on May 3 that China's position on the issue of Kashmir remains clear and consistent. (PTI)