Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will hold an “extensive” exchange of views with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna when they meet in Bangalore next week, a Chinese official said on Tuesday, even as Beijing sought to play down the recent tensions with New Delhi.

In the next seven days, India and China will have two opportunities to address the strains in their relationship over the long-running border dispute. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Bangkok this week, though both sides are yet to confirm a meeting.

But the two countries’ Foreign Ministers will certainly hold talks in Bangalore on October 27, when the Foreign Ministers of India, China and Russia will meet.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said on Tuesday that Mr. Yang would exchange views with his Indian counterpart “in an extensive way” on bilateral ties and regional issues of common concern. He would not specify whether the recent tensions over the border dispute would figure in the talks.

Beijing and New Delhi have traded barbs in recent weeks, after China said it was “strongly dissatisfied” with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s October 3 visit to Arunachal Pradesh, parts of which China has claims on. New Delhi responded saying it was disappointed with China’s statement and called on China to stop assisting Pakistan’s infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Disregarding the recent tensions, Mr. Ma said Beijing positively viewed the overall progress in bilateral ties. “The momentum of growth in the relationship has been seen by high-level visits from both sides and increased business co-operation.”

In the middle of renewed strains in the relationship, China and India are set to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year. Mr. Ma said the two countries would use this opportunity to “advance our strategic cooperative partnership,” by holding a number of “commemorative activities.”

Amid the positive messages to New Delhi, China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday reiterated its opposition to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh scheduled for next month.

Responding to a question about the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit, Mr. Ma said Beijing was “greatly concerned.” “We believe this further exposes the Dalai Lama’s nature of anti-China separatism, as is known to all.” The Dalai Lama and New Delhi have stressed that the Tibetan leader’s visit will not be political, and will be purely religious in nature.


Massive security for ASEAN summit in Thailand October 22, 2009

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