India hits China wall in anti-terror talks

FP

India's first conversation in three years with China on counter-terrorism recently failed to make much headway despite New Delhi providing Beijing fresh findings and evidence.

Not only did China bluntly refuse to re-examine its objection in the UN to proscribing the Jaish-e-Mohammed's Maulana Masood Azhar and two prominent Lashkar-e-Toiba faces, but also firmly rejected looking into details of Chinese arms suppliers provided by Anthony Shimray of the NSCN (IM).

The counter-terrorism dialogue in Beijing this July, the first such talks after 26/11, was an attempt at reviving this old bilateral mechanism after three years. However, sources said, there was no progress on substantive issues.

The US has been unsuccessfully prodding China, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, to allow the UN to put Azhar along with Lashkar operatives Azam Cheema and Abdul Rehman Makki under the al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctions list. India had hoped for a change in the Chinese attitude if it discussed the matter at a more discreet bilateral setting.

According to reliable sources, while the Indian side presented detailed information on each of the three terror figures, all Pakistan-based, Chinese officials insisted the information was still insufficient.

Interestingly, the Chinese interlocutors conveyed that Beijing was not contesting the terror-related evidence provided by Delhi, but that information connecting the three to al-Qaeda or Taliban was not enough.

The Chinese side argued that this was a technical requirement under the relevant UN resolutions. A frustrated Indian delegation then promised to revert with more information in due course. Since then, instructions have gone out to security agencies to obtain evidence of the kind sought by China.

If this marked a poor beginning to the talks, sources said, the discussion on Northeast insurgent groups and their alleged Chinese links was almost a non-starter. The Indian side passed on information provided by Shimray in his statements before the court that the NSCN (IM) had arranged arms and ammunition worth nearly $2 million from TCL, a subsidiary of Chinese arms company China Xinshidai. However, even names of individuals, the agents in Bangkok and other such details did not seem to impress the Chinese side.

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