With the border dispute in Ladakh seemingly shoved to the background, Indian and Chinese leaders on Friday said they were looking forward to Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India – his first trip abroad after taking over as premier - on May 19 to strengthen strategic ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s expected visit to China later this year would further deepen the bonds which have been lately dented by the incursion by Chinese troops and falling trade numbers.
A senior Indian officer, in-charge of India-China border, is also in Beijing to exchange views on the border issue with counterparts in China.
The Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, part of the 16 agreements suggested by China, will be discussed during Li’s visit to India.
After three tense weeks between the two countries over the incursion, resolved earlier this week, Friday saw both countries – including China’s often critical state media – talking peace, stability and strategic cooperation.
On the last leg of his visit, foreign minister Salman Khurshid met Premier Li and state councillor Yang Jiechi on Friday.
“China and India are the world’s most populous countries and largest emerging economies and their simultaneous development on our two countries is of strategic significance not only for the region but for the whole world,” Li told Khurshid during their meeting at the sprawling and somber Zhongnanhai, the central leadership compound.
“The healthy and steady development of our bilateral relationship is very good news not just for our own peoples but also for peace and stability in the region and in the world,” Li said.
China would like to negotiate with India to settle border issues and create favorable conditions for bilateral cooperation and development, Li said.
Briefing Beijing-based Indian journalists on Friday night, Khurshid said he raised the issue of the recent border incident with Yang Jiechi, who has been appointed as the special representative (SR) for the ongoing border talks with India.
“We did speak on the issue. I brought up the issue of the border matter... that such incidents should not recur,” he said.
Talking about Li’s visit to India, Khurshid said several agreements, including 16 put up by the Chinese, will be discussed. On some of the issues, like liberalising the visa regime, the views of both countries were overlapping. In some, more discussions will be needed. While Khurshid left for India on Friday night, senior Indian officials will stay back to finalise the groundwork for Li’s visit.
The state media said on Friday that issues should be resolved through negotiations.
“While we shouldn't pretend that border disputes and historical issues don't exist between the two nations, it is hard to deny that the problems were often solved in a quick fashion as the two-way ties are getting more mature each day.
For international observers, being fixated on border spats, which are not rare between neighbouring nations, risks missing the grand picture of the overall positive trend of the China-India relationship and the huge opportunities and benefits it could bring to the region and the world,” state-run Xinhua said in a commentary.