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masood-azhar-4China on Thursday said it was in “close” contact with India over its efforts to put Masood Azhar on the UN list of proscribed terrorists, as it expressed willingness to step up bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation in response to President Pranab Mukherjee’s call.

“The anti-terrorism situation has undergone great changes. China, India and all countries have shown greater willingness to counter terrorism,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

Hong was responding to Mukherjee’s remarks to state-run CCTV channel saying that China joining hands with India in the fight against terrorism will have “its own impact”.

“China and India have important consensus and common interest in terms of fighting terrorism. China is willing to step up communication and cooperation with India on anti terrorism and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” Hong said replying to a question on Mukherjee’s interview.

Ahead of his State visit to China scheduled to take place between May 24 and 27, Mukherjee said, “India and China – both huge countries – multi-cultural, multi-racial – if they come together in fighting this menace, I am sure it will have its own impact.

“And India always believes that every country should have a zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and the fight is to be all out.”

His comments assumed significance as it come against the backdrop of China recently blocking India’s bid to put Masood Azhar on the UN list of proscribed terrorists, a move that has become a major irritant in Sino-India relations.

On Azhar’s ban issue, Hong said China is in “close contact with India”.

“As a permanent member of the UN security council, China always follows objective and fair attitude to deal with listing of the 1267 committee (the UN Committee authorised to list individuals and groups as terrorists) issue and we are in close communication with India on this matter,” he said.

India has publicly highlighted its disappointment to China over the issue.

India’s reservations were conveyed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during their recent interactions with their Chinese counterparts.

The issue was expected to figure in Mukherjee’s talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping scheduled on May 26. The UN had banned JeM in 2001 but India’s efforts to ban Azhar after the Mumbai terror attack also did not fructify as China, one of the five permanent members of the UNSC, did not allow the ban apparently at the behest of Pakistan.

The US State Treasury department had designated him as Special Designated Global Terrorist in November 2010. About Sino-Indian relations, Mukherjee in his interview said India and China have a”comprehensive relationship” and India considers ties with China as “important”.