India an important neighbour: Chinese premier

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) India is an “important neighbour”, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Monday while stressing that the main aim of his visit was to increase areas of mutual interest and intensify cooperation.

“India is China’s important neighbour. (The purpose of) my current visit to India is three-fold — to increase mutual interest, intensify cooperation and to face the future,” Li said outside Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Combined population of India and China account for a third of humanity. Development and prosperity of the world cannot happen without simultaneous development of India and China,” the Chinese premier added.

He hoped that during this visit “both sides increase mutual strategic trust”.

Li added that his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday night were “productive”.

“Today’s talks will be more bountiful. Can guarantee you when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh comes to China, there will be banner headlines welcoming him,” he said with a smile.

The Chinese leader arrived in India Sunday on his first overseas tour since he took office in March. On Monday, both sides are to hold formal talks.

Li is heading an 80-member delegation that includes Foreign Minister Wang Yi. On Tuesday, he will go to Mumbai, from where he will go to Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany.

Li had last visited India 27 years ago as the head of a youth delegation and has said he has fond memories of that trip.

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