South Asia to figure in Sino-US strategic dialogue

South Asia to figure in Sino-US strategic dialogue Beijing: China on Thursday said its strategic dialogue with the United States here next week would include issues relating to South Asia, including efforts to "jointly promote regional peace and stability".

"In the China-US Strategic and Economic dialogue we will have in-depth exchanges on regional issues," Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, told a media briefing here today when asked whether issues relating to South Asia and that of India and Pakistan would figure in the talks.

"Our purpose is to jointly promote regional peace and stability and regional development and enhance our friendly relations with South Asian countries. That is our purpose," he said.

The Vice Minister said China shares "friendly and mutually beneficial" relations with the countries of South Asia.

"China has friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation with India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries," Cui said.

"We have extensive cooperation with South Asian countries covering wide ranging areas and such relationship between China and South Asian countries is beneficial for bilateral relations and beneficial to peace and stability of South Asia," he said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, heading a delegation of over 200 members, would hold the second Strategic and Economic Dialogue with Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo on May 24 and 25. The talks would include issues relating to the sub-continent.

Observers say Afghanistan and Pakistan may dominate the discourse on the regional issues as the US, in its preparatory meetings, had asked Beijing to take more pro-active role to help stabilise these two countries.

Robert Blake, the US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, early this month had said after his talks with Chinese officials that Washington is seeking to strike common ground with China on South Asia. He wanted Beijing to play a bigger role to help stabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan.

One of Washington's highest strategic priorities is to help Afghanistan and Pakistan to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates entrenched along the two countries' border, he said.

"This is an interest that China shares with the US and Pakistan. So we discussed ways that China can coordinate and contribute to international efforts in these two countries," Blake underlined.

China's plan to build two 650 mw nuclear power plants in Pakistan was also expected to figure in the talks as Washington has already said it would like to know from Beijing how it plans to implement the deal with Islamabad without the clearance from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the multi-national body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of atomic technology.

The Chinese Vice Minister in his briefing on Thursday skirted a response to a question linked to its nuclear deal with Pakistan.

The first US-China strategic talks was held in Washington last year.

The talks next week would be held in two parts. While Hillary-Dai talks will focus on strategic issues, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan would discuss the issues relating to economic and trade issues, including Washington?s key demand to let Chinese currency Yuan appreciate against the dollar.