Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled to meet a 500-member youth delegation from India on Thursday, said Chinese officials, with both countries looking to send a positive signal on the state of bilateral ties amid reports of recent strains.

The announcement of Mr. Wen meeting the delegation was last-minute. Officials in the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday Mr. Wen would address the delegation at an event in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

The group is here on a 10-day visit, led by Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Ajay Maken, under an initiative by both governments to mark 2011 as the year of India-China youth exchanges.

The delegation is the biggest ever from India and includes political leaders, students, including those who specialise in Chinese studies, and artists.

Mr. Wen had extended an invitation to 500 Indian youth during his visit to New Delhi in December, instead of the earlier practice of 100-member exchanges.

The delegation arrived in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon, and will later travel to Shanghai and Guangzhou. An interaction with Chinese youth will take place on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People, with the Chinese Premier or another top Chinese leader expected to attend.

Both countries are looking to upcoming bilateral interactions to draw a line over recent reports of strains in relations because of differences over Indian oil exploration projects in the disputed South China Sea.

  • Positive signal in bilateral ties
  • Largest delegation from India