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Indian PM starts landmark visit
( 2003-06-23 10:25) (Xinhua)

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee arrived in Beijing on Sunday, starting a six-day official visit to China at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao.

India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, right, salutes the party waiting for him as he is lowered from the airplane on a lift at the airport in Beijing, China, Sunday, June 22, 2003.[AP]

It is the first visit to China by an Indian prime minister in nearly a decade.

Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed Vajpayee, who was followed by Indian senior officials, 40 entrepreneurs and 60 journalists, at the airport.

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry sources, Chinese leaders will meet with Vajpayee and the Indian prime minister will give two speeches during the visit.

In New Delhi, Vajpayee said on Friday he hopes his discussions with the Chinese leadership will build better understanding and trust between the peoples of the two countries, and give an extra push to bilateral co-operation.

He made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua before his visit to China.

"My visit to China is the first by an Indian prime minister in nearly a decade. In this period, our two countries have developed a wide canvas of mutually beneficial co-operation," Vajpayee said.

"The world around us has also changed dramatically during these years. As two of the world's largest and most populous developing countries, India and China should remain in close touch on global issues of concern to developing countries."

Vajpayee also noted that India and China jointly defined the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence about 50 years ago as the basis of relations between sovereign, independent countries.

The Indian leader said he looks forward to the opportunity to see for himself the rapid economic development China has achieved in the last two decades.

On Sino-Indian relations, he said, "In recent years, our two countries have launched a process of diversification of bilateral relations."

"We have successfully developed mutually beneficial bilateral co-operation, while simultaneously addressing our differences."

On economic ties between the two countries, he said, "India and China are among the world's fastest growing economies. The basic structure of our economies is not dissimilar, though we have chosen different paths towards development."

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