Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold two important bilateral meetings on Wednesday, during which economic and improvement of bilateral relations will occupy centre stage.

At the meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Dr. Singh is expected to announce initiatives to accelerate economic ties with both countries.

On the political side, officials have indicated the possibility of a concurrence or downplaying of some issues with China that have acted as irritants in ties. These include the stapled visa issue, with both sides indicating some rapprochement; and the resumption of high-level defence exchanges that were suspended after a senior Indian Army officer was denied a visa on the grounds that he headed a command whose jurisdiction included Jammu and Kashmir.

Government sources said both nations would give concrete shape to the idea of a strategic economic dialogue that was mooted during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi in December last.

The idea, the sources said, was to understand each other's position and approaches to global economic developments and to undertake initiatives that pare China's huge balance of trade advantage vis-à-vis India. Both sides agree that this trade deficit is unsustainable and not conducive to healthy ties. In particular, India is seeking greater access to its pharmaceutical and IT companies and has gained some success in this regard.

With Mr. Medvedev, the talks are likely to focus on India securing a firmer energy foothold in the Arctic region and Siberia, besides discussing greater trade and economic ties.

More In: National | News