Forty Years Ago, March 9, 1978: Peking's Invitation
Minister for External Affairs Atal Behari Vajpayee was invited to visit Peking and he accepted the invitation “in principle”. The invitation from the Chinese foreign minister, Huang Hua, was conveyed orally to Vajpayee by the leader of the Chinese goodwill delegation, Wang Pin-nan, when he called on Vajpayee. The meeting lasted one and a half hours, which is considered unusual for a courtesy call. A spokesman of the MEA said Vajpayee and Wang reviewed the “exchanges between India and China over the last one and a half years since the posting of ambassadors in each other’s country and they expressed confidence that further exchanges would take place in diverse fields”.
Morarji on Sikkim
The New York Times quoted the Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, as having told the paper in an interview that the Indira Gandhi government “should not have annexed Sikkim”. It is not clear whether Desai used these words or they represent a free rendering by the newspaper. The paper added: “But”, he said as he denounced the move, “I cannot undo it now”. It was “not a desirable step”, said the prime minister, “but it has been accomplished and most of the people there wanted it”. He said the reason was that the former ruler of Sikkim was not popular with the majority of his people. Nevertheless, Desai said it is wrong for a big country to do that.
Appeal for Indira
The prime minister of Zambia has appealed to the Janata government not to “harass” and “ill-treat” Indira Gandhi and instead accord her the treatment due to an ex-Premier. Mainza Chona, in a letter to The Times from Lusaka, said today: “Mrs Gandhi is one of the greatest leaders by any standard and her 11 years as leader of the Indian Congress and in office as premier of one of the populous countries is a clear testimony of this.”