China on Friday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to President Xi Jinping to visit India this year and said that the two countries are in touch to finalise the proposed high-level trip.
The invitation to Xi was extended by Modi when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang telephoned to congratulate him on taking over as Prime Minister.
During Li’s conversation with Modi, both sides agreed to further advance China-India strategic cooperative partnership, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said answering a question about Modi’s invitation to Xi to visit India.
“In the past many Indian leaders have on many occasions invited president Xi Jinping to visit India. China appreciates that.
The two sides are in communication with each other through the diplomatic channels on that,” he said.
Details of Xi’s visit are expected to be worked out during the forthcoming visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to New Delhi to personally greet Modi and hold talks with new External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Wang will be travelling to New Delhi on June 8.
During his visit, India may announce the participation of top leaders for celebrations marking 60 years of Panchsheel.
Officials say that China is keen that President Pranab Mukherjee should take part in the event being held here on June 28 in which Xi and President of Myanmar Thein Sein are due to take part.
A detailed roadmap for a host of pending decisions, including Chinese investment parks, China’s participation in Indian railway modernisation and infrastructure projects, steps to provide more access to India’s IT and pharmaceuticals to address the trade deficit, which now stands around USD 35 billion, are expected to figure during Wang’s visit.
Xi, who established himself as the most powerful leader in China within a year after taking power, heading the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), the presidency and the military, has been conveying persistent messages to improve relations with India as Beijing braces to deal with the US pivot to Asia and rising tensions over its maritime disputes with Japan and Southeast Asian countries.
While Premier Li, number two in the Chinese leadership hierarchy after Xi, chose New Delhi as his first foreign destination after taking power last year, Xi’s interest in visiting India was conveyed during the last round of border talks.
Xi told Indian Ambassador to China, Ashok K Kantha in March this year that furthering the Sino-Indian strategic partnership is his “historic mission”.
“Furthering strategic partnership with India is my historic mission and I am a proponent of it,” he told Kantha while receiving the envoy’s credentials.
Xi and Modi are expected to have their first meeting during the BRICS summit in Brazil in July.