Serves our interests to coexist peacefully, says Li in India

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) Arriving in India days after a border stand-off, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Sunday that China regards India as an important partner and friend, and it serves their bilateral interests and the world to coexist peacefully.

In a written statement issued on his arrival here Sunday afternoon, Li said “it serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people and is a blessing to Asia and the world at large that China and India coexist peacefully, maintain friendly relations and work together to realize national rejuvenation,” said Xinhua news agency.

China, Li said, regarded India as an important partner and friend, adding, “I am looking forward to exchanging views with Indian leaders on bilateral ties and regional and global issues of common concern.”

Li also expressed confidence that his visit would strengthen mutual trust, deepen cooperation, expand common interests and consolidate bilateral friendship, which would inject new vigour into the China-India strategic and cooperative partnership designed for peace and prosperity.

The choice of India as the first stop of Li’s maiden foreign tour indicates the great importance Beijing attaches to its relations with India, said the Chinese news agency.

The visit comes days after a Sino-Indian border stand-off was resolved. Chinese troops intruded some 19 km inside the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de-facto border – April 15 and pitched tents.

The row ended May 5 after several rounds of negotiations – military and diplomatic – with both sides reverting to the position that existed before April 15.

The issue led to tensions. It is likely to be discussed when Li and Singh hold restricted talks – minus their delegations – Sunday evening. Singh is also to host a private dinner for the visiting dignitary.

The Chinese foreign ministry said China hoped the visit could further cement the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries, strengthen cooperation in such fields as investment, trade and infrastructure, explore complementary advantages, and achieve mutually beneficial results.

China also wants to strengthen communication and coordination with India on international and regional issues so as to make greater contribution to peace and stability in the region and the world as a whole, it said, according to Xinhua.

Li is to hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday evening and attend a dinner hosted by him. On Monday, he will hold delegation level talks with the Indian prime minister at Hyderabad House after which the two sides are expected to sign some agreements.

He leaves for Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon and proceed to Pakistan early Wednesday.

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