April 18, 2018 8:27:42 pm
China on Wednesday said its relations with India have seen “great strides” and the upcoming visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will further enhance “political trust” between the two countries. Swaraj will arrive here on April 21 for a four-day visit and hold talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on April 22 to take forward attempts by both countries to reset ties strained by last year’s 73-day Dokalam military standoff as well as a host of other issues.
“We believe Swaraj’s visit will further enhance political trust between the two countries and elevate the China-India strategic cooperation partnership,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
“We have seen great strides in all-around cooperation. This year, there is a positive momentum in bilateral ties. We would like to work with the Indian side to maintain high-level exchanges, expand practical cooperation, properly manage disputes and move forward bilateral ties,” Hua said.
The issues of discord between the two countries include the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) being built through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, China blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as its opposition to efforts to list Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN. This will be Swaraj’s first meeting with Wang after he was elevated last month to be the state councillor, which makes him the top diplomat in the Chinese hierarchy. He holds the dual posts of state councillor and foreign minister.
During their talks, Wang and Swaraj will exchange views on bilateral ties, international and regional issues of mutual concern, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. Swaraj is also scheduled to take part in the Foreign Ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on April 24 besides meeting Chinese Hindi scholars and students.
Hua said Foreign Ministers of all eight-member countries of the SCO will take part in the meeting on April 24. SCO, in which China plays an influential role, is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. This is the first Foreign Ministers’ meeting after India and Pakistan were admitted into SCO last year.
All parties will exchange views on SCO cooperation and major international and regional issues, Hua said. The meeting will lay the groundwork for the upcoming summit of the SCO at the Chinese city of Qingdao in June, she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take part in the SCO summit.
The Chinese leadership will have group meeting with heads of delegations. Foreign Minister Wang will chair Foreign Minister’s meeting. The ministers will exchange views on all important international and regional issues.
At the end of the meeting, the ministers will witness signing of outcome document, she said, adding that “we believe all sides will take the opportunity to build on consensus, reach more cooperation and ensure success of Qingdao summit.”
Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be visiting China virtually around the same time. Sitharaman is also due to take part in the SCO defence ministers’ meeting on April 24.
The visit of Swaraj and Sitharaman were taking place as India and China stepped up high level exchanges to defuse tensions following the Dokalam standoff.
Ahead of Swaraj’s talks with Wang, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met Director of China’s Foreign Affairs Commission and member of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) Yang Jiechi in Shanghai on April 13 during which the two sides held in-depth talks on improving relations.
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