President Pratibha Devisingh Patil played down China’s nuclear push for Pakistan and border disputes to underscore the way forward – New Delhi-Beijing partnership that ‘transcends the purely bilateral’.
Patil is the second President in 10 years (after KR Narayanan) to visit China on an official invitation from her counterpart Hu Jintao. The goodwill visit attains significance in the wake Beijing’s reported assistance in setting up three N-reactors in Pakistan and its bid to dam the Tsangpo, one of the sources of the Brahmaputra in Assam.
“As ancient civilizations, India and China have had contacts and linkages over millennia. Our nations enjoyed trade along the Silk Route,” said the President, in a golden-edged light green silk sari. The historic links, she added, have traveled to the future with both countries eyeing a bilateral trade target of US $ 60 million this year.
Patil admitted there were issues that needed reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement. “But there should be peace and tranquility on both sides of the border till such a solution is arrived at,” she said.
That India and China were progressing on the route to cooperation became evident during the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, the President pointed out.
“There is enough space in the world for both countries to fulfill aspirations and for both to grow and prosper together,” Patil said.
The President’s six-day tour will take her to Beijing, Louyang in central China’s Henan province and Shanghai. She will be dedicating to the people of China an India-style Buddhist temple at Louyang besides unveiling a bust of Rabindranath Tagore in Shanghai.
She is also expected to ink bilateral agreements during her meeting with President Jintao, Chairman of National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin. She would also be meeting Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping.