Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to visit India next week
Hailing the ‘proper settlement’ of the recent border stand-off between the two Armies in Ladakh as a reflection of “mature handling” of Sino-Indian ties, China on Monday formally announced its new Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India, the first stop of his maiden foreign tour.
Li will be in India on a three-day visit from May 19 during which he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told media briefing in Beijing.
57-year-old Li will also visit India’s financial capital Mumbai before leaving for Pakistan.
According to Chinese officials, Li has chosen India to be the first stop of his first foreign tour after assuming charge in March. Besides India and Pakistan, the Chinese premier will also visit Germany and Switzerland.
During his talks with Indian leaders, Li will exchange views with them on China-India relations in particular how to deepen China-India strategic partnership, Hong said.
“We believe this visit to India by Li will further push forward the strategic cooperation for common development and prosperity”, he said.
China has chosen both Russia and India to be the first destination of its new leaders’ foreign visits.
While President Xi Jinping chose to visit Russia on his way to BRICS summit in March, Li chose India to be his first destination abroad to send a message of commitment of the new leadership to further friendly relations with New Delhi.
However, his gesture of friendship was overshadowed by a sudden move by Chinese military personnel to pitch tents at the Daulat Beig Oldi in Ladakh sector leading to a 20-day stand-off between the two countries.
The dispute was resolved after India reportedly cautioned China that it would have adverse impact on bilateral ties. The stand-off ended after two sides agreed to simultaneous pullout from the area.
The two sides, however, managed to repair the ties during the just concluded visit of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid here last week during which he held extensive talks with Li, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and State Councillor and Special Representative for India-China border talks Yang Jiechi.
Providing the Chinese perspective on Khurshid’s talks for the first time, Hong acknowledged that the “relevant incident was discussed by the two sides”.
“The two countries believe proper settlement of the incident once again demonstrates that the two countries bare in mind larger interest of bilateral relations and are willing to settle the incident properly,” he said.
“The two countries believe that pending the resolution of the boundary issue they should maintain the peace stability of the border areas,” he said.
During his talks with Khurshid, Wang Yi stressed that China and India are natural strategic partners, Hong said.
Being Asian countries with long history and both are major developing countries, “they both advocate the independent foreign policy of peace”, Wang told Khurshid.
“The strategic partnership between India and China enjoy great prospect and are gaining global significance,” the Chinese Minister told Khurshid, Hong said.
“Both sides believe that they should seize the momentum of sound development their relationship and implement the consensus between the leaderships and push forward their strategic partnership,” he said.
During the talks both countries stressed that they need to maintain the momentum of sound development of bilateral relations and enhance cooperation across the board, deepen mutual political trust, economic cooperation and trade, he said.
Talks focused on enhancing people to people exchanges as well as cooperation and coordination, international and regional affairs such as UN and jointly protect the interests of developing countries and bring their interests at a high level, he said.
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K J M Varma is a Guest Contributor at Niti Central.