India and China are poised for a string of high-profile engagements, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj heading to Beijing on her maiden visit August 28, which will set the stage for China’s President Xi Jinping’s first trip to New Delhi around mid-October.
“We have an active calendar of visits ahead of us, with Swaraj travelling to China later this month,” India’s Ambassador to China Ashok Kantha said while addressing an Independence Day gathering at the Indian embassy in Beijing August 15. “We are looking forward to the State visit of President Xi Jinping to India shortly,” he said.
After a short trip to Vietnam, Swaraj will be travelling to China August 28-29 to attend the trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China(RIC). On the sidelines of the trilateral meeting, India’s foreign minister will have wide-ranging talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. She is also expected to call on President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang. The focus of the talks will be on finalising the dates for the Chinese president’s visit to India and to firm up deliverables for the summit meeting between Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi and President Xi in New Delhi next month. Reliable sources said that Xi’s visit was earlier planned for September 14-15, but in view of the trip coinciding with President Pranab Mukherkee’s visit to Vietnam, India has proposed that the Chinese president comes to Delhi soon after. The Chinese side is not happy with this suggestion as President Xi wants to make India the first destination of his subcontinent visit, which also includes stops in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Quibbles over dates apart, the two sides are resolutely working to ensure substantive outcomes. India is working closely with the Chinese side to achieve concrete outcomes for Xi’s visit, Kantha said. He underlined that the bilateral engagement with China has evolved into a “substantive and fruitful strategic partnership”.
The foreign ministers of India and China recently met on the sidelines of the India-ASEAN ministerial meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar. “They discussed a whole gamut of issues which could serve as outcomes for President Xi’s visit to India,” Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry, said after the talks.
The issues spanned an entire spectrum, including matters of trade, possibilities of a new route for Kailash Mansarovar yatra, discussions on how to narrow the trade gap between India and China, possibilities of investment from China in industrial parks in India, said the spokesperson. “This was a substantive and a very satisfactory meeting, and in our assessment has paved the way for what we look forward to be an interesting and successful visit from President Xi to India,” he told journalists in New Delhi August 13.
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