Official sources have confirmed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s plans to visit India in May on his first overseas tour after assuming office.

The meeting could see both leaders adding to the confidence building measures that have seen a gradual step up since both sides signed a protocol in 2005 to define rules of behaviour along the line of actual control (LAC).

A positive signal

As The Hindu had reported, Chinese officials are particularly keen to use Mr. Li’s visit to send a positive signal to India that the new leadership wants to take the ties to “a higher level.”

Dr. Singh was one of the first leaders Mr. Li spoke to after he was appointed Premier on March 15 following the session of the National People’s Congress, or Parliament.

Sources said this would send a strong message on how the new leadership in Beijing viewed relations with India as a priority.

Mr. Li ranks second in the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, which is headed by Chinese President Xi Jinpeng.

To send that message, Chinese officials said they were prepared to overlook the usual factor of reciprocity that determines diplomatic visits — the Indian Prime Minister is actually due first in China according to protocol, following the former Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to New Delhi in 2010.

Interest amid tensions

China has shown keenness to improve ties with India at a time when it has had continuing tensions over sovereignty issues with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines and is facing a challenging time in managing the North Korea crises.

The new Chinese President’s gesture was almost similar.

Mr. Xi's first overseas visit was to Moscow. Following this the Chinese President met Dr. Singh twice in as many days on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Durban last month.

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