Chinese PM likely to visit Delhi by end of this year
Hanoi: China reached out to India yesterday amid continuing undercurrents of tension, with Premier Wen Jiabao telling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the outset of their much-awaited meeting that he would like to visit Delhi this year and the Indian leader responding he was "very glad".
"You have on many occasions issued an invitation to me to visit your country, and my preliminary information indicates that I will pay a visit to your country by the end of this year," Wen said in his introductory remarks while stressing that the two leaders should "discuss and reach a consensus on major aspects to lay a foundation for the visit".
Manmohan Singh, who is in Hanoi to attend India-Asean and East Asia summits, responded on a similar note, pointing out that they had met ten times in the last six years and each time had been a "very rewarding experience".
"We are very keen that during the 60th year of establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, your excellency should find it possible to visit our country and I am very glad to know from you that the visit could take place by the end of this year," he said as flashbulbs popped and TV cameras whirred.
The meeting comes amid persisting differences between the world's two most populous countries on a variety of issues, the most important of them being the long pending boundary dispute and Jammu and Kashmir.
Two days after Manmohan Singh reiterated before an audience in Malaysia that the world was "large enough to accommodate the growth ambitions of both countries", Wen recalled the words and said: "To that I add that there is enough space in the world for India and China to have cooperation."
Suggesting that they "discuss and reach a consensus on some major aspects" to lay the foundation for his visit, the Chinese leader said: "We have both viewed and handled our bilateral relationship with a strong sense of history..."
The meeting, also attended by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Secretary-East Lata Reddy as well as four cabinet ministers from the Chinese side, went on for about 40 minutes after that.
With the issue of China's insistence to give stapled visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir and the boundary dispute dominating the India-China landscape, Manmohan Singh brought up the issue of sensitivities to each other's core issues.
"The prime minister spoke of sensitivities to each other's core issues. Both spoke of the determination relations forward," Menon told reporters later.
He added that the meeting was "warm and friendly and covered the entire gamut of the relationship.
"During the discussion on bilateral relations, both took a broader strategic view and expressed satisfaction at the development of relations. They also discussed specifics."
Menon said both sides looked forward to "an early resolution of the border issue". Pending settlement of the contentious issue, the two countries would "maintain peace and tranquillity in the area", he said.