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China flight on radar

Kunming (China)/Calcutta, June 14: Kunming is keen on starting direct flights to Bengal to boost Sino-Indian trade, local officials in the capital of China’s Yunnan province said today.

“We have initiated talks with Bengal to start a direct flight to Kunming. We hope we can start the flight at an early date which is conducive for further strengthening of our bilateral ties,” the vice-secretary-general of the Yunnan provincial government, Cui Zhitao, told a group of visiting journalists from South Asia.

Cui also said Kunming has been recently connected by air with Dhaka.

In Calcutta, Bengal’s commerce and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen said: “We are keen on direct air connectivity with many places in the East'. Obviously we want direct links with China and it could be Beijing-Kunming-Calcutta'. We have placed our request before the central government for such direct links.”

Last year, a delegation from Yunnan was in the city, and the issue of direct connectivity was discussed as one of the steps required for closer links between China and Bengal.

Last week, a delegation from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was in Kunming. Rajiv Kaul, a former CII president who led the 15-member team, said “the issue of direct flight was discussed”.

Land-locked Yunnan is geographically close to Bengal and India’s Northeast and relations between the province and Indian entrepreneurs are starting to bloom, said Li Jiming, the deputy director-general of the department of commerce.

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