US, China refrain from mentioning South Asia in joint statement

India had protested the joint statement of US and China issued in Nov 2009.

Washington: Sensitive to India`s concerns, US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao has refrained from making direct reference of Beijing`s role in South Asia as the two countries pledged to work together on resolving key global issues including Iran, North Korea, terrorism and climate change.

There was no mention of South Asia or even Afghanistan and Pakistan or South Asia in the joint US-China statement issued after the day-long meetings between Obama and Hu.

This is unlike the joint statement of the two countries issued on November 17, 2009 when Obama visited China on a four-day state visit, which was strongly protested by New Delhi.

"The two sides welcomed all efforts conducive to peace, stability and development in South Asia," the November 17, 2009 joint statement had said.

"They support the efforts of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight terrorism, maintain domestic stability and achieve sustainable economic and social development, and support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan," said the joint statement issued in Beijing in 2009, less than two weeks before the state visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US.

"The two sides are ready to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region," the joint statement had said.

Such a statement was seen in India as an acknowledgment of China`s role in South Asia, in particular between India and Pakistan. Obama was in India in November; after which Chinese Prime Minister also visited India.

On both the occasions, India is believed to have communicated to the US and Chinese leadership about such a move. As such there has been no such mention in the joint statement issued by Obama and Hu after the meeting.

It is understood that India was told in advance of the visit that their November 2009 mistake would not be repeated this time.

"The United States reiterated that it welcomes a strong, prosperous, and successful China that plays a greater role in world affairs. China welcomes the United States as an Asia-Pacific nation that contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the region," said the joint statement issued after the series of meetings between the two leaders.

"Working together, both leaders support efforts to build a more stable, peaceful, and prosperous Asia-Pacific region for the 21st century," the joint statement said.

"The two sides believe that the United States and China have a common interest in promoting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and agreed to enhance communication and coordination to address pressing regional and global challenges," the joint statement said.

"The two sides agreed to enhance communication and coordination in the Asia-Pacific region in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, and to work together with other Asia-Pacific countries, including through multilateral institutions, to promote peace, stability, and prosperity," said the joint statement.

"The two sides undertake to act to protect the global environment and to work in concert on global issues to help safeguard and promote the sustainable development of all countries and peoples," it said.

"Specifically, the United States and China agreed to advance cooperation to: counter violent extremism; prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery; strengthen nuclear security; eliminate infectious disease and hunger; end extreme poverty; respond effectively to the challenge of climate change; counter piracy; prevent and mitigate disasters; address cyber-security; fight transnational crime; and combat trafficking in persons," it said.

In coordination with other parties, the United States and China will endeavour to increase cooperation to address common concerns and promote shared interests, the joint statement said.

Besides expressing concern over heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula triggered by recent developments, the two sides noted their continuing efforts to cooperate closely on matters concerning the Peninsula.

The United States and China emphasised the importance of an improvement in North-South relations and agreed that sincere and constructive inter-Korean dialogue is an essential step, it said.

"Agreeing on the crucial importance of denuclearisation of the Peninsula in order to preserve peace and stability in Northeast Asia, the United States and China reiterated the need for concrete and effective steps to achieve the goal of denuclearisation and for full implementation of the other commitments made in the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks," the statement said.

"In this context, the United States and China expressed concern regarding the DPRK`s claimed uranium enrichment programme. Both sides oppose all activities inconsistent with the 2005 Joint Statement and relevant international obligations and commitments.”

“The two sides called for the necessary steps that would allow for early resumption of the Six-Party Talks process to address this and other relevant issues," it said.