Swaraj meets Chinese President Xi

Swaraj meets Chinese President XiBEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping today met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here and said China and India have taken solid steps to step up cooperation and implement the agreements reached between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I have full confidence on the future of China and India relations and I believe that good progress will be achieved in the growth of bilateral relations this year,” Xi told Swaraj who called on him at the Great Hall of the People here.

Xi said that since his visit to India in September last year, relations between the two countries have entered into a new stage.

The positive side of China-India relationship has been gowning, he said, adding that momentum of cooperation between the two countries picked up with solid steps being taken to implement the agreements between him and Modi.

Among one of the solid steps taken by the two sides, they exchanged notes yesterday on modalities for opening the second route for the Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra in Tibet via Sikkim by June, that will allow more Indians to undertake the pilgrimage.

Xi had promised opening the new route to Modi during the former’s maiden visit to New Delhi last year.

Recalling his fond memories of India visit, Xi told Swaraj “I still cherish the fresh memories in my mind about the gracious hospitality extended to me by the government and people and particularly I cherish the fond memories of my trip to Prime Minister Modi’s hometown in Gujarat state.”

“The Prime Minister himself accompanied me on the trip.

Please convey my best regards and cordial greetings to President (Pranab) Mukherjee and Prime Minister Modi,” said Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party.

Reciprocating Xi’s warm words, Swaraj said Prime Minister Modi has sent his greetings and best wishes for the Chinese Lunar Year of Sheep, which commences later this month.

“I have been told that the Lunar Year of Sheep is known as the year of creativity and innovation…I feel that your India visit was about creativity and innovations,” she said, adding that new ways were being devised to improve the relations between the two countries.

While it is indeed rare that Chinese President receives Foreign Ministers, officials say it demonstrates the Chinese leader’s warmth and friendship towards India. . Swaraj, who arrived here on January 31, held in-depth talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi following which she said Prime Minister Modi would make an “outcome driven visit” to China before the BJP-led government completes one year in office in May.

Officials say that Xi was expected to take Modi to his native province of Shaanxi and its historic city Xian – which has ancient Buddhist links with India – to repay the hospitality he received in the Indian premier’s home state.

Swaraj yesterday said that her visit was aimed at making preparations for Modi’s visit and prepare the ground for 18th round of India-China border talks to resolve the vexed border dispute.

Chinese position is that the border dispute is confined to 2,000 kms mostly on Arunachal Pradesh whereas India asserts that the dispute covered the western side of the border spanning to about 4,000 km.

The two countries have held 17 rounds of Special Representative talks so far to resolve the boundary dispute.

The issue also figured during talks between Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi during his historic visit to India in September last year.

The two leaders had agreed to make efforts to resolve the border dispute at the earliest.

Swaraj said her visit was aimed at reviewing the implementation process for various commitments made by China including USD 20 billion investment in two industrial parks and cooperation for modernization of Indian railways.

India is also seeking opening for IT, Pharmaceuticals and Agricultural goods into Chinese markets as a measure to address the USD 38 billion trade deficit in over USD 70 trade last year.–PTI