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India's foreign minister kicks off first official visit

2010-04-06 07:58

Trade, border issue expected to figure high on talks agenda

BEIJING - India's foreign minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna kicked off his first official visit to China on Monday seeking stronger ties between the two Asian neighbors. Krishna will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and call on Premier Wen Jiabao during the four-day tour.

India's foreign minister kicks off first official visit

The foreign minister's visit comes as the two countries are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. He is scheduled to participate in a series of activities commemorating the occasion.

"The focus is to impart momentum to ties between the two nations. Both sides have the maturity to narrow areas of divergence and increase areas of convergence," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters earlier.

Border issues and greater market access for Indian goods will be high on the minister's agenda, Prakash said.

According to Commerce Minister Chen Deming, annual bilateral trade exceeded $50 billion in the last two years and is expected to reach $60 billion this year. India is striving to reduce a $15.8 billion trade deficit with China.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang last week underscored the common ground with India ahead of Krishna's visit. He urged the two countries to deal with problems and challenges from a strategic and overall perspective. Beijing and New Delhi have seen a flurry of political communication and negotiations since the beginning of the year.

Dialogues on defense and economy were held and consultations on foreign affairs also restarted in February after more than two years of standstill. Last week, the two countries started to sort out visa issues. Scholars from both sides will sit down for trans-border talks on river water sharing this month.

Indian National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon has been designated as the special representative for boundary talks with China and will co-chair the next round in late summer.

The two countries have held several rounds of talks on the long-simmering border issue but there has been no breakthrough yet.

Krishna is also expected to reiterate the objections to Beijing's practice of issuing special visas for residents of Indian-administered Kashmir, a move that indicated China was treating the area as disputed territory.

Global Times quoted Yang Haisheng, a former Chinese military attach to India as saying New Delhi has been very sensitive about Kashmir related issues and views the matter as its core concern.

He said India believes that China had no right to issue visas for people from disputed areas, and both sides must find an acceptable solution to the issue.

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