External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will begin his maiden visit to China on Monday, with India hoping to build on the positive aspects of the bilateral relationship and narrow down divergence in other areas, Ministry officials said here on Saturday.
Mr. Krishna will interact with the top Chinese leadership, including Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, to give greater momentum to the ties, Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told journalists here on Saturday.
Besides seeking to consolidate the good functional cooperation in energy, defence, science and technology, agriculture and people-to-people contacts, the two sides will address irritants in the relationship, such as stapled visas issued by Beijing to passport-holders from Jammu & Kashmir, and Chinese construction activity in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The two sides will discuss furthering the cooperation on regional and international issues such as climate change, the international financial crises and the Doha Round of trade talks, Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia). “Both countries have the confidence and maturity to address issues peacefully.”
Confident of achieving the bilateral trade target of $60 billion this year, both sides will hold talks on reducing the trade imbalance, which is heavily skewed in China's favour. India will also seek the lowering of non-tariff barriers and increased market access for its goods, especially IT-enabled services, pharmaceutical products and basmati rice. “China has agreed that trade cannot continue on a sustained basis with such imbalances,” Mr. Bambawale said.
Officials described the issue of stapled visas as India's core concern which went to the heart of sovereignty and territorial integrity. “We have asked them to do away with this. There should be uniformity in issuance of visas regardless of ethnicity or domicile,” they said.
Besides attending a reception organised by the Indian Embassy in Beijing to mark 60 years of diplomatic relations, Mr. Krishna will inaugurate a six-month-long ‘Festival of India' and address students at the China Institute of International Studies.
Mr. Bambawale said Mr. Krishna's visit was part of continuing high-level exchanges between both countries. President Pratibha Patil is scheduled to visit Beijing this year, while senior Chinese leaders will come to India during the course of the year. Mr. Krishna will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who was the previous Ambassador to China, and Mr. Bambawale, the first Consul-General of the Indian Consulate at Guangzhou. Indian Ambassador S. Jaishankar will accompany the delegation.