Li Keqiang

Sino-India border row 'on table' for Li Keqiang visit

India welcomes Li Keqiang today on trip that will 'enhance trust', official says

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 May, 2013, 7:50am


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India says all issues will be "on the table", including a recent border row and a festering trade imbalance, during Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the South Asian giant, which starts today.

At the same time New Delhi thinks "very highly" of Li's decision to make India his first overseas stop since taking charge as premier, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said yesterday.

After arriving early today, Li will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and later will be a guest at a dinner hosted by the Indian leader at his residence, officials said.

Such high-level exchanges are aimed at "enhancing trust", Akbaruddin added.

Ties between the neighbours have been dogged by mutual suspicion that lingers long after a 1962 border war high in the Himalayas.

India's joint foreign secretary for East Asia, Gautam Bambawale, said "everything is on the table" for discussion, including the border dispute and improving the nations' trade balance, which is tilted heavily in China's favour.

"The two prime ministers will talk about these subjects," Bambawale said.

The border dispute with New Delhi flared last month into a three-week stand-off after India alleged that Chinese troops intruded nearly 20 kilometres into Indian-claimed territory, highlighting long-standing tensions.

Tomorrow the two leaders, accompanied by high-level delegations, will hold wide-ranging talks on key international, regional and bilateral issues.

On the economic front, Bambawale said India would press for more trade access to China. In 2012, bilateral trade was US$66.5 billion - down from US$74 billion in 2011 and a setback to the neighbours achieving their US$100 billion goal by 2015.

After New Delhi, Li is scheduled to travel on Tuesday to Indian financial hub Mumbai and then to Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany as Beijing seeks to address security and economic disputes.