Chinese Prime Minister calls up Modi

Updated - November 16, 2021 07:41 pm IST

Published - May 29, 2014 02:48 pm IST - BEIJING

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is the first foreign leader to call up Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he assumed charge.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is the first foreign leader to call up Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he assumed charge.

China’s Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday telephoned Narendra Modi to convey the Chinese leadership’s desire to build“robust” ties with the new government in New Delhi, with India’s Prime Minister, in the 40-minute call, inviting President Xi Jinping to visit India later this year.

The telephone call from Mr. Li — the first to Mr. Modi from a foreign leader following his swearing-in — capped an unprecedented outreach from Beijing in recent days to Mr. Modi. In the past week, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, and the top official in charge of foreign policy, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, have both met with the Indian Ambassador in Beijing to convey the leadership’s desire to deepen ties with India.

That message will be delivered in person to Mr. Modi’s government in a week’s time, with Mr. Wang, the Foreign Minister, set to travel to New Delhi on June 8 to meet with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

During Thursday’s phone call, Mr. Modi told his Chinese counterpart that China was “a priority” in India’s foreign policy.

He also extended an invitation to President Xi Jinping to visit India, which will take place later this year. Mr. Wang’s visit, sources said, would also discuss Mr. Xi’s visit, as well as the prospect of a senior Indian official travelling to Beijing in June to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Panchsheel, or five principles of peaceful coexistence.

Mr. Li is the first foreign leader to call Mr. Modi following his swearing in, Indian officials said, although leaders of SAARC countries were invited to Monday's ceremony.

In a 40-minute conversation through interpreters, Mr. Li congratulated Mr. Modi and “conveyed the Chinese government’s desire to establish robust partnership with the new government of India,” the Indian Embassy in Beijing said in a statement.

Mr. Modi said China “was always a priority in India’s foreign policy,” and stressed his government’s “resolve to utilise the full potential of our Strategic and Cooperative Partnership with China.”

He expressed his desire for closer economic engagement with China, and to resolve “outstanding” issues by working closely with Beijing.

Whether or not Mr. Modi's government will be able to make progress on the long running boundary dispute is one issue being followed closely in China.

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