NEW DELHI: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged on Monday to build trust with India and declared that ties between the Asian giants were key to world peace as he visited New Delhi only weeks after a border spat.

Speaking alongside his counterpart Manmohan Singh, Li said China wanted to increase cooperation with India, saying his choice of destination for his first foreign visit showed the importance that Beijing attached to ties with Delhi.

“The purpose of my current visit to India is three-fold — to increase mutual trust, to intensify cooperation and to face the future,” Li said.

“On the basis of deeper mutual trust, our two countries can further deepen our mutual understanding and construct a new type of relations between major countries, promote healthy and sound development of China and India.

“That will be a true blessing for Asia and the world.” Li's visit comes after a flare-up last month in a long-running border dispute between the two countries in a remote Himalayan region.

New Delhi accused Chinese troops of intruding nearly 20 kilometres into Indian-claimed territory, triggering a three-week standoff that was resolved when troops from both sides pulled back.

The Line of Actual Control between the nuclear-armed neighbours has never been formally demarcated, although they have signed accords to maintain peace in the region that was the site of a brief Indo-Chinese war in 1962.

Although Li did not mention the border dispute, he stressed that cooperation between the world's two most populous nations had global ramifications.

“World peace... cannot be a reality without strategic trust between India and China,” he said.

After arriving in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon, Li held a first round of talks with Singh in the evening and the two held more detailed discussions on Monday.

Li is also scheduled to meet Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, ruling Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi and senior figures from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party before heading Tuesday to the financial hub, Mumbai.

The border dispute almost led Khurshid to cancel a visit to Beijing before the pullback agreement, despite his insistence that the row should not serve to “destroy” recent diplomatic progress.

Sujit Dutta, a China expert at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University, said Beijing could become more assertive in such disputes under its new leadership.

“As Beijing's new leadership is making a concerted effort to challenge India's territorial assertions, India will have to plan new attempts to bridge the perceptional distances between these two huge neighbours,” Dutta told AFP.

Other observers said there was a general acceptance that the border dispute should not be allowed to block progress in other areas.

China is India's second-largest trading partner, with two-way commerce totalling $66.5 billion last year.

Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Yaoping told reporters last week he was optimistic that the target of reaching $100 billion by 2015 would be met.

But the figure in 2012 was in fact a fall from the $74 billion for 2011 and India is also facing an increasing trade deficit with China that totalled $29 billion in 2012.

Several major roads in the Indian capital have been closed to prevent Tibetan protestors from disrupting the visit while exile groups complained of heavy-handed policing in their neighbourhoods.

“The police have denied us permission to protest in New Delhi and police deployment in Tibetan resident areas has been intensified. They are not allowing young Tibetans to walk in groups,” said Tsering Choedup, a regional coordinator for the International Tibet Network.

After wrapping up his visit to India, Li is due to travel to neighbouring Pakistan before heading to Switzerland and Germany.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (7)

May 20, 2013 12:12 pm

chinese premier selects India as his first visiting country as pm shows its importance over pakistan.

K G Surendran
May 20, 2013 12:38 pm

The fact that he has chosen India as the first destination for his first overseas visit after taking over is symbolic enough of the strong trade between the two countries, considering that the traditional export markets for Chinese goods, Europe and America, are facing a terminal illness that does not appear to go away in a hurry which does not translate into good news for the Chinese manufacturing sector. However, the Chinese will continue to be aggressive as far as territorial matters are concerned because that is part of their DNA - EXPANSIONIST.

May 20, 2013 12:57 pm

India is already a World power and China is rightly acknowledging it now

Rashid Sultan
May 20, 2013 6:16 pm

Let us see what he has to say about relationship, trade and future with Pakistan.

May 20, 2013 6:53 pm

Just curious, is China really Pakistan's friend or are they just serving themselves our resources and ports and land? '...saying his choice of destination for his first foreign visit showed the importance that Beijing attached to ties with Delhi' ... that says all. Where they are carrying out trade partnership and business deals with India, they come here and sing songs about our 'ever green' friendship, and how they are utilizing our sources for 'developmental activities' that will ultimately benefit them.

May 21, 2013 6:58 am

@MJ: Beijing is Islamabad's "all weather" friend, the present weather being called unilateral exploitation and the forecast predicts that its going to be that way for a long long Pakistan

May 21, 2013 5:04 pm

I rightfully feel, the time is close for us to follw the EU regime and have an Asian Union. Free trade and logistics will go a long way in settling all disputes. No borders should be the agenda of the day. It can now be acknowledged that one country cannot stay isolate. Asia is one of the richest continents with regards to the quantom of natural resources. We have two emerging super powers in China and India and all emerging economies. Lets us not close doors and open completely.

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