Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, on Saturday morning in the first top-level bilateral contact between the two countries after months of verbal jousting.
Singh arrived at the Thai beach resort, 200 km south of Bangkok, on Friday night to participate in the summit of the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). His first official engagement will be the meeting with Wen.
“All issues of mutual interest will figure in the meeting,” said a senior official of the external affairs ministry, indicating that the sharp exchanges on rival claims to Arunachal Pradesh and Chinese project work in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir may be discussed.
China has its own grouses including barriers to the country’s investment in India and visa difficulties. There are positive points as well: the two nations confirmed their long-standing coordinated policy on climate change with a deal signed in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Both countries believe that emerging economies cannot accept legally binding carbon emission reductions and that developed countries have a “historic responsibility” to cut their emissions the most.
Before leaving for Thailand, Singh in a statement in New Delhi confirmed his bilateral meeting. “On the sidelines of the summit, I will have bilateral meets including with the PM of the State Council of People’s Republic of China.”
The backdrop to the meeting has been the rising tension over the two countries’ border disputes. These began in July, following reports of Chinese incursions near Siachen, which were denied by Beijing.
The two governments lowered temperatures by blaming the media. But the two sides were back to bickering after China protested a visit to Arunachal Pradesh by Singh on October 3.
One of India’s responses was to say that the Dalai Lama was free to visit anywhere he wished — including Arunachal Pradesh.