Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his government’s desire to establish a “robust partnership” with India. Modi, on his part, expressed “keenness” to work closely with China on all “outstanding issues”.
Li is the first foreign leader to call up Modi after he was sworn in. Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi is coming to Delhi on June 8, and could become the first foreign minister to visit India after the new government took over. Modi, as chief minister of Gujarat, had visited China in November 2011, much before the West started engaging with him. Modi and Li spoke through interpreters for about 25 minutes.
The Chinese leader “congratulated Modi on his victory in the recent general elections and conveyed the Chinese government’s desire to establish robust partnership with the new government of India for further development of relations between the two nations,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
Modi noted that China “was always a priority” in India’s foreign policy, and welcomed “greater economic engagement” between the two countries. He underlined his government’s resolve to utilise the full potential of “our strategic and cooperative partnership with China and his keenness to work closely with the Chinese leadership to deal with any outstanding issues in bilateral relations by proceeding from the strategic perspective of our developmental goals and long-term benefits to our peoples”, the MEA said.
The two leaders agreed to keep up frequent high-level exchanges and communication. Modi also thanked Li for his earlier message of felicitation, and extended an invitation through him to President Xi Jinping to pay a visit to India later this year.
China had formally greeted Modi, and sent a special message through Indian Ambassador to Beijing Ashok K Kantha during Kantha’s meetings with Wang and State Councillor and Special Representative for the border dispute, Yang Jiechi. Li had greeted Modi immediately after he was sworn in as Prime Minister, saying China viewed India as a “natural cooperative partner”, and was ready to work with the new Indian government to take their strategic cooperative partnership to a “new level”.
Modi and Xi will have an opportunity to meet during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit, to be held in Brazil in July. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry became the first leader to call up the new External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Kerry said the US looked forward to “re-energize ties” with India. Swaraj also got calls from her counterparts in the UK, Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the UAE.