President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Wednesday played down China’s nuclear role for Pakistan and border disputes to underscore the way forward — partnership between New Delhi and Beijing that “transcends the purely bilateral”.
Patil is the second President (after K.R. Narayanan) in 10 years to visit China on official invitation from her counterpart Hu Jintao.
The goodwill visit attains significance in the wake of 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 travelled to the future with both countries eyeing a bilateral trade target of $ 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.”
That India and China were progressing on the route to cooperation became evident during the climate change conference in Copenhagen, the President pointed out.
The President’s six-day tour will take her to Beijing, Louyang in central China’s Henan province and Shanghai. She will dedicate 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 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 will also meet Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping.