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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to arrive Sunday on three-day visit to India

 
Chinese Premier to arrive in Delhi on Sunday afternoon

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will arrive here this afternoon on a three-day state visit to India during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on ways of achieving growth in the bilateral relationship and increase investment, trade and people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

India is the first stop of Mr Li's maiden foreign tour as Premier, which will also take him to Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany.
 
"We think very highly of this gesture because it is our view that high-level political exchanges between our two countries are an important aspect and vehicle for our expanded cooperation. The object of such visits and meetings is to enhance trust and understanding between our two governments and our peoples as well as to exhibit sensitivity to each other’s concerns," Mr Syed Akbaruddin, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, told newspersons here yesterday.
 
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"As far as China is concerned, it is a very important country and India places priority to our relations with China. We are both ancient civilizations, the most populous countries in the world, and our economies are growing rapidly. We feel that the relationship between India and China is one of the most important in the 21st century. We need to carefully nurture our growing partnership which is significant not only in the bilateral dimension but also increasingly has a global nature," he said.
 
Mr Li will arrive here around 1520 hours today and is slated to have a restricted meeting with Dr Singh this evening after which the Prime Minister will host a dinner for him.
 
Mr Li will be given a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan tomorrow morning and visit Rajghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.
 
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will call on the Chinese Premier. This will be followed by delegation level talks between Dr Singh and Mr Li, after which the two sides will sign some agreements.
 
The two Prime Ministers are slated to interact with the media before Dr Singh hosts a lunch for Mr Li and his delegation.
 
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj will call on Mr Li. The Chinese Premier is scheduled to call on Vice-President M Hamid Ansari and meet ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
 
On May 21, Mr Li will address students at an event hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). Subsequently, he will call on President Pranab Mukherjee.
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Mr Li is also slated to visit Mumbai on May 21, where he will address a meeting organised by FICCI, ASSOCHAM and CII. He is also scheduled to visit Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and meet relatives of Dr Kotnis in Mumbai. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will call on him.
 
Earlier this month, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had visited Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and to prepare for Mr Li's visit to India.
 
His visit took place just days after the two sides ended a stand-off in Eastern Ladakh caused by an incursion by Chinese troops.
 
The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs had said on May 6 that the Governments of the two countries had agreed to restore status quo ante along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of the India-China boundary as it existed prior to 15 April,2013.
 
"Flag meetings have been held to work out the modalities and to confirm the arrangements," he had said.
 
Mr Khurshid, who had also met Mr Li during his visit, told newspersons here on May 11 on his return that the Chinese side felt, and India agreed, that the joint statement that will be issued after the meeting of the two Prime Ministers "should be a strong message to our respective people, to the rest of Asia and to the world."
 
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He said that, among other things, the two sides were working on ways of simplifying the visa process for businesspersons.
 
He said agreements in the pipeline and not ready before Mr Li's visit would be signed during Dr Singh's visit to Beijing later this year.
 
"I think since 1954 possibly, this is the first time when there will be two-way Prime Ministers’ visits between India and China taking place. Therefore, I think this Year of the Snake will be a significant year as we see it," he said.
 
The two sides are expected to agree on sister cities and sister provinces. There are also discussions on a Chinese industrial park in India.
 
The two sides are also working on ways of balancing their existing trade, which is currently in China's favour by a huge amrgin.
 
Mr Khurshid had also said that the Chinese side had given to India a border defence cooperation agreement some weeks ago which the two sides will now work on.
 
 
Meanwhile, Chinese media reports have said that the choice of India as the first leg of Mr Li's maiden overseas trip as Premier had sent out a clear signal that the new leadership in Beijing accords high priority to enhancing ties with New Delhi.
 
The reports noted that both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Li had, in recent statements, reaffirmed China's commitment to fostering stronger ties with India while effectively managing border problems and other thorny issues.
 
"Over the years, bilateral relations have withstood a host of tests, including the latest border spat. But the swift cooling-down once again shows that both nations are looking at the big picture of their ties, instead of being carried away by incidental matters.
 
"It is obvious that both sides want fewer hostilities and confrontations in their neighborhood and, with their primary focus on national development, need to seize the strategic growth opportunities facing them," Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, said in a report.
 
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