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Economic ties top agenda of Wen's visit
Date: 2010/12/16 Click: 876
EXCLUSIVE S. JAISHANKAR

S. Jaishankar is the Indian ambassador to China. [China Daily]

Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India will give a vision for the future development of bilateral relations with economic cooperation the top focus for next year, said Indian Ambassador to China S. Jaishankar.

"I am confident that we will see a very productive visit," he told China Daily in a recent exclusive interview ahead of Wen's three-day visit to India from Dec 15 to 17.

"The premier's visit provides an opportunity to assess the progress in the India-China relationship and to give a vision for its future growth," he said.

The ambassador said there has been much ground for satisfaction considering the dramatic changes in bilateral ties since Wen's last visit in 2005.

"We are engaging each other more broadly and positively than ever before. The economic relationship in particular is booming," he said.

"As rising powers, it is also important that we coordinate closely on global issues," he added.

About 400 Chinese business leaders will accompany Wen to India, and deals worth some $20 billion in finance, infrastructure, energy, telecommunication and pharmaceuticals are likely to be finalized, Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis reported.

"On a broad range of economic issues, the benchmark for cooperation is being constantly raised as performance exceeds expectations," Jaishankar said.

Jaishankar said the two nations are currently planning events for next year focusing on the economy and people-to-people contacts.

"We hope to increase networking and promote awareness in China of the capabilities of Indian companies," he said.

China is India's largest trade partner, and the two nations are expected to meet their trade target of $60 billion this year.

"Bilateral ties have developed very strongly in the last few years. We have identified a growing convergence of interest. Our differences have also been effectively managed," Jaishankar said.

However, Jaishankar also pointed out that there are still some historical issues left that are being addressed, and there are also more contemporary issues arising from the growing relationship, such as a large trade imbalance.

"I do believe that we can work through these issues and find mutually acceptable solutions," he said.

China and India concluded their 14th round of border talks in late November with a call to "seek a fair and reasonable solution acceptable to both sides".

Jaishankar said both nations must appreciate the complexity of the border issue.

"What is important is that we have reached agreements on maintaining peace and tranquility and enhancing confidence building measure," he said.

During Wen's last visit to India in 2005, the two sides agreed on the political parameters and guiding principles for a settlement, which then created a favorable atmosphere for discussions to solve the border issue, according to the ambassador.

"We are certainly approaching it with a constructive attitude," Jaishankar said.

Wen's visit follows one to China by Indian President Pratibha Patil in May - the first by an Indian head of state in a decade, and comes a month after United States President Barack Obama's trip to India in early November.

Discussions have since grown about which big power India will embrace on its rising path, but Jaishankar doesn't view this concern that way.

Jaishankar admits that no country today conducts foreign policy on the basis of exclusive relationships.

But he noted, "India-China relations stand on their own merit and have their own value. Independence has been the hallmark of our foreign policy."

This year marked the 60th year of China-India diplomatic ties.

Jaishankar also commented on the 10th foreign ministers' meetings of India, Russia and China held in November in the city of Wuhan in Central China.

"Our three countries share common interests and hold similar positions on many global and regional issues," said the ambassador.
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