External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit China later this week to participate in the Foreign Ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) during which she will also hold talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
Swaraj, who will be arriving in China on April 21, is expected to meet Wang on April 22. She is scheduled to take part in the SCO Foreign Ministers meeting on April 24, official sources here said.
This will be their first meeting after Wang has been elevated last month to be the State Councillor, which makes him the top diplomat in the Chinese hierarchy. He will hold the dual posts of the State Councillor and Foreign Minister. After her China visit, she will travel to Magnolia.
Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are visiting China virtually around the same time. Sitharaman is due to take part in the SCO Defence Ministers meeting on April 24. The SCO meetings are a prelude to the June summit of the eight-member grouping in which India and Pakistan have become new members.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take part in the SCO summit to be held in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June. Foreign and Defence Ministers of Pakistan are also expected to attend the April 24 meetings. The SCO is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
Visits by Swaraj and Sitharaman are taking place as India and China have stepped up high-level exchanges to defuse tensions following last year’s Dokalam standoff.
On April 13, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met Yang Jiechi, Director of China’s Foreign Affairs Commission and member of the ruling Communist Party of China, in Shanghai during which the two sides held in-depth talks on improving the relations. Both sides also held the 11th Joint Economic Group meeting and the fifth Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED). India and China also held working mechanism meeting on border affairs and cross border rivers.
Commenting on the meetings, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media here yesterday that bilateral ties have seen sound momentum and all round cooperation this year.