External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoped to have an “outcome driven” visit to China, especially on the crucial boundary question.
While exact dates have not been finalised, the PM will certainly be in China for bilateral talks with the Chinese leadership before the NDA government completes a year in office.
At the end of a day packed with engagements that included talks with her counterpart Wang Yi and the leaders of China’s Communist Party, Swaraj said that Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping were ready to discuss “out of the box” ideas to resolve the longstanding and contentious border issues. India shares a 3,488-km border with China, and incursions by Chinese soldiers had overshadowed talks during Xi’s visit to India in September.
“I told them during the talks that let us not pass on this dispute to the next generation. They responded positively,” Swaraj said.
It has now been decided to set up a contact group comprising officials to deliberate on a range of issues, including trade and investment. India suffers a trade deficit of almost $ 40 billion with China. Bilateral trade in 2014 topped $ 65 billion.
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart ahead of Modi’s visit to prepare the ground for what Swaraj reiterated would be an “outcome-driven” visit.
In answer to a pointed question on whether the Chinese side had made any reference to US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to India and the mention of disputes in the South China Sea in the joint statement, Swaraj said: “That was a different visit. There was no shadow of the Obama visit during the talks today. Our relations with other countries are independent of America. There was no discussion on South China Sea.”
She also said India was willing to extend “synergy-based endorsement” to China’s proposed Maritime Silk Route, and not a “blanket endorsement”.
“India is interested in BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) and ASEAN connectivity,” the minister said.
“We need investment. We hope to attract $ 20 billion from China on two industrial parks and railway systems. They have already started investing,” Swaraj said. She said India had sought increased market access for pharmaceutical, agricultural and software services to bridge the trade deficit. Swaraj is expected to meet top Chinese industrialists over lunch on Monday.
She said her maiden visit to China also focused on opening the additional route for the Kailash Manasorvar Yatra for which preparations are on. “It is a big thing,” she said.
Alternate route for Mansarovar opens this June. Five batches of 50 pilgrims each announced Swaraj. The route is expected to provide more comfortable journey experience to pilgrims with a facility to travel to Kailash-Manasarovar directly by buses.
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