"We have built mechanisms to keep peace on the border. On the settlement of the boundary issue we are trying various ways. It needs hard negotiations," Menon said during a panel discussion on "India-China Ties: 25 years after Deng-Rajiv talks" organised by the Nehru Memorial Library and Centre for Policy Research here.
Menon described former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's 1988 visit to China as "historic" and said "it was a brave and realistic decision, given the flux in international relations."
Noting that "the 1988 visit was primarily between the leaders," the NSA said, "it needed to become mass-based now."
Former Indian ambassador to the US Ronen Sen recounted that "Rajiv Gandhi was determined to go to Beijing despite opposition from within the Congress."
"The Congress had over 400 MPs in Lok Sabha, so there was little opposition to the move outside. But there was opposition within the Congress," he said.
Sen said Rajiv Gandhi's decision to visit Beijing was "not a hasty one and a lot of preparations, in terms of back channel discussions," had gone into it.
Noting that "peace on the India-China border was paramount," Sen said: "I see no resolution in the near future".
"There was an unparalleled preparation behind the visit. The opening up was the result of a long drawn out policy," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who chaired the discussion, said.
According to Ramesh, there was "political continuity" in India's foreign policy on China, in that the NDA government 1998-2004, under former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, took it forward.
"We decided to separate the boundary issue with bilateral relations between India and China. All governments since built on that relationship," said Menon.
Alka Acharya, who teaches international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University, described Rajiv Gandhi's 1988 visit to Beijing as "a step but not a leap forward."
"There was a focus on the road to Beijing, but no objective," Acharya said.
"Rajiv Gandhi could have used his reputation to push something drastic," she said.
Former bureaucrat C.R. Gharekhan, who worked with late prime minister Indira Gandhi, said the "process of normalising relations with China had begun during her rule."
--IANS (Posted on 21-12-2013)