India-China boundary talks begin today: Special Representatives of India and China have begun the 16th round of boundary talks in Bejing ealier today. Chinese Special Representative Yang Jiechi said that he was willing to “break new ground to strive for the settlement of the China-India boundary question”. C. Raja Mohan, in the Lowy Interpreter, writes that the two countries will not find it easy to come up with effective answers and that there is “no escaping the fact that Sino-Indian frontier has re-emerged as a major military flashpoint in Asia”. He writes that the ”nature of the Sino-Indian border dispute has changed in the last few years. The rapid expansion of Chinese military power and the modernisation of Chinese infrastructure in Tibet over the last few years have tilted the balance on the frontier in favour of Beijing. India’s belated military response has accentuated the tensions. The PLA is unlikely to end its newly aggressive approach to the patrolling of the border and asserting its claims. Delhi, in turn, will not end its current efforts to match the Chinese military capabilities on the ground”.
U.K. visa bond scheme for Indians “ill conceived” – The Economist: An article in The Economist criticizes the UK home secretary’s announcement of a £3,000 “bond” for visitors from India (as well as from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria). According to the newspaper, “On a visit to India in February David Cameron gushed about Britain’s special relationship with its former colony. He talked of forging one of the great partnerships of the 21st century. He bragged of how many Indians could travel to Britain. So much for that.”
Ecuador breaks US trade pact to thwart ‘blackmail’ over Snowden asylum [The Guardian]: ”Ecuador has ramped up its defiance of the US over Edward Snowden by waiving preferential trade rights with Washington even as the whistleblower’s prospect of reaching Quito dimmed. President Rafael Correa’s government said on Thursday it was renouncing the Andean Trade Preference Act to thwart US “blackmail” of Ecuador in the former NSA contractor’s asylum request”.
Pakistan remains engaged with the Taliban to get talks with United States back on track: Dawn reports that according to a Pakistani official, Pakistani “negotiators were talking to the Taliban leadership to persuade them to get on with the talks with the Americans and the Afghan government”.
Husain Haqqani cautions America against talks with Taliban: In a New York Times op-ed, Husain Haqqani argues that the United States should learn from the mistakes of Washington’s previous engagement with the Taliban during Bill Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s. He writes, “Americans may believe that talks offer an opportunity to end an expensive war that is no longer popular among Americans, but they shouldn’t forget the Taliban’s history of deception. For the Taliban, direct dialogue with the United States is a source of international legitimacy and an opportunity to regroup. They are most likely playing for time while waiting for American troops to withdraw in 2014. Everything about the talks in Qatar hints at déjà vu. America must enter these talks with a healthy does of skepticism, or not participate at all”.
The Economist on Kerry’s visit to India and the state of India-US relations: “The many differences conceal a fundamental transformation of bilateral relations. India and America are now intertwined in so many different co-operative and competitive ways—military, commercial, cultural, educational, scientific—that they may have outgrown a “strategic dialogue”, where governments chart the course. Those on both sides hankering after a “next level” in relations would probably abhor what such a level might look like: an anti-China strategic alliance. America’s interest has always been less in such a pact than in a strong, friendly India that is a counterweight to China. And it has pursued that interest in the full knowledge that a strong India would be even less likely than a weak one to be friendly on every issue.”