India, China hold Strategic Dialogue, hail momentum in ties

Written by PTI | Beijing | Updated: Apr 15 2014, 02:47am hrs
India today assured China of its commitment to consolidate strategic bilateral ties based on mutual trust as well as sensitiveness to each other's concerns and aspirations, as their top diplomats held the annual strategic dialogue here amid the Indian general elections.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh co-chaired the sixth round of the Strategic Dialogue with her Chinese counterpart Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin at the picturesque Diaoyutai guest house.

The talks were held as the long-running Lok Sabha elections, hailed as the world's biggest democratic exercise, got underway in India that will form a new government at the Centre.

Singh, in her opening remarks, said: "My visit here today is to reiterate to the government of China that the government of India attaches the highest priority to India's relations with China.

"We are committed to consolidating our strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity. The core of our vision is of a good neighbourly relationship based on mutual trust and understanding and where we are sensitive to each other's concerns and aspiration."

"As our Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) articulated on several occasions, there is sufficient space in the world for both India and China to meet their developmental aspirations within our respective processes of economic and social development there is great scope for bilateral cooperation," Singh said.

Stating that the annual Strategic Dialogue is being held in less than a year, she told Liu that "it is symbolic of the fact that our relations are growing and our interactions are increasing".

China said it was "confident" that India will stay committed to strong bilateral ties irrespective of whichever party comes to power after the polls.

"We are confident that to promote China-India friendship is a shared consensus of all political parties in India," Liu said ahead of his meeting with Singh.

"So I am confident that whichever party comes into power in India, it will stay committed to friendship and cooperation between the two countries," he said.

Liu, in his opening remarks, appreciated the timing of the talks between the two foreign ministries, terming the Indian general elections as "very important".

"I wish to mention in particular that India is undergoing a very important election. Therefore, you have chosen to come to China at this very special time to have this strategic dialogue with us. This shows the tremendous importance that the Indian government and you yourself attach to this bilateral relationship and we highly appreciate that," he said.

Liu - who took part in last year's Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi - said the talks will be centred on all issues in bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

"We will also talk to each other about issues of the region and world of shared interest.

"China and India are two large countries and two biggest developing countries in the world, therefore our bilateral relationship has already gone beyond the bilateral scope and naturally, besides bilateral cooperation we are also going to talk about regional and international issues," he said.

"So, we can see three levels of India-China cooperation on the bilateral level, regional level and international level. It is a very important bilateral relationship," he said.

Singh said the bilateral ties have witnessed "all-round progress in recent years".

Last year was the year of harvest in the relationship when both Prime Ministers exchanged visits in a calendar year for the first time since 1954, she noted.

Before their talks, Liu and Singh went on a stroll in the sprawling beautiful official guest house laid up with seasonal flowers.

Ahead of the talks, officials said the two sides will review the entire range of bilateral relations including plans for leadership-level visits in the second half of this Year of India-China Friendly Exchanges.

Singh will call on Foreign Minister Wang Yi tonight.

A host of issues, including mutual concerns over stability in Afghanistan in the backdrop of the US plans to withdraw its troops from there besides India's over USD 35 billion trade deficit with China, were expected to figure in the dialogue.

Like India, China too is concerned over the return of Taliban and al-Qaeda which could have a destabilising effect on its Muslim Uygur Xinjiang province which is experiencing a spate of terrorist attacks.

India was expected to flag its concerns once again on USD 35 billion annual trade deficit and see major openings for IT and pharmaceutical products in Chinese markets besides investments from China.

Singh along with her Chinese interlocutorswas also expected to finalise plans to hold the year long Glimpses of India festival all over China.