Enhancing mutual trust and maintaining the momentum of last year’s frequent bilateral exchanges will be in focus when foreign minister Sushma Swaraj reaches Beijing later this week, Chinese authorities said on Wednesday.
Swaraj lands in Beijing on Saturday for a four-day trip that will include the 13th meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China.
Announcing her visit, foreign ministry spokesperson, Hue Chunying said that Swaraj will be on an official visit to China – her first after taking over as foreign minister -- between January 31 and February 3.
Swaraj is expected to make a courtesy call on President Xi Jinping besides having a one-on-one with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
Swaraj’s visit comes within days of China all but dismissing President Barack Obama’s India visit as "superficial rapprochement".
“The shortened three-day visit is more symbolic than pragmatic, given the long-standing division between the two giants, which may be as huge as the distance between them,” a state media commentary on Obama’s visit said.
During her trip, the Indian minister will inaugurate the ‘Visit India’ year – a bunch of year-long promotional events to attract Chinese tourists to India – besides attending an India-China media forum.
Senior journalists from print and television are flying in from India to take part in the event.
“This is her first visit to China after taking over. We attach great importance to (Swaraj’s) visit.” She will be meeting the Chinese leadership besides having bilateral meetings with foreign minister, Wang Yi,’’ Hua said at the regular press conference on Wednesday.
Both governments are tight-lipped but modalities of the expected visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi within the next few months are likely to be discussed as well.
Hua added that bilateral issues and issues of common interest will be in focus during Swaraj’s meetings with the Chinese leadership.
India and China were in “sound cooperation” in regional and international issues, she said, adding that both countries were focussing on mutual trust.
Hua said Xi’s India visit last September had laid the platform for a new chapter in Sino-Indi ties and strategic cooperation in the next five to 10 years.
Relations between the two countries remain fraught with the long-standing border dispute and the cases of incursions by soldiers along the border.
On the trilateral RIC meeting, Hua said the three countries share similar opinions on international and regional issues. Swaraj will meet Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.
“During the meetings, the three sides will exchange views on practical cooperation. We believe a range of consensus will emerge from the meeting about our practical cooperation,’’ Hua said.