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China a priority of Indian foreign policy: Nirupama Rao

world Updated: Mar 23, 2012 23:03 IST

China is a key priority of India's foreign policy and the country is attempting to establish a strategic and co-operative partnership with Beijing, Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao has said.

"China, as another immediate neighbour, is a key priority of India's foreign policy. We have attempted to establish a strategic and cooperative partnership with China," Rao said in her address to the Hudson Institute on "Indian Foreign Policy in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities".

China, she noted, has emerged as the largest trading partner of India. New Delhi's engagement with Beijing is now multi-faceted, she added.

"The maintenance of peace and tranquility on our borders with China, and the quest for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the outstanding boundary question, are areas of crucial importance in our bilateral relationship," she said.

"Naturally, as between any two large countries, there are areas of convergence as well as fields of divergence between our nations. We will maintain dialogue with China with the objective of minimising such differences or bridging them," Rao said.

Rao, who was India's foreign secretary, before being appointed as the Indian Ambassador to the US, said that the foremost task of India's foreign policy is to enable the domestic transformation of India.

"At the broadest level, our foreign policy seeks security and support from the international community as we build and transform our society and economy," she said.

"Our strategic goals are basically to enable the domestic transformation of India by accelerated growth and a strategic autonomy that safeguards the national interest at all times in this overall global context. These goals will not change for a long time. But this does not mean that India is going to be insular or inward looking," she said.

"On the contrary, our engagement with the world has accelerated and grown exponentially over the last few years. We have benefitted from our integration into the global economy since the 1990s. And this engagement is only bound to grow as India actively pursues its interests in the world and remains ready to contribute within her capacity," Rao said.

"We want to maintain an open global order at many different levels. Our vision of a secular, pluralistic and tolerant society within the country, embracing a multiplicity and diversity of opinions and outlook, is sought to be articulated in our dealings with the world," said the Indian Ambassador.