The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal to carry business brief

New Delhi, June 12: A push for a more robust trade and economic relation seems certain amid the swirl of speculation surrounding Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s agenda for the six-day official tour to China beginning on June 22.

A visit by a high-level delegation of Indian industry will coincide with Vajpayee’s tour. Moreover, the Prime Minister is scheduled to address a joint Indo-China business meeting in Beijing and lay stress on how close cooperation in the area can be mutually beneficial and act as binding force between the two neighbours.

Vajpayee’s visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in a decade, comes in the backdrop of sweeping changes that the world and the region has witnessed. Vajpayee goes to China as the Prime Minister of nuclear India, carrying with him clear signals that Delhi bears no ill-will towards its northern neighbour and does not regard it as its “potential enemy number one”.

The tour also gives the Prime Minister an opportunity to familiarise himself with the new leadership in China and hold wide-ranging talks with them on a number of issues of bilateral, regional and international interest and concern to both countries.

Among the leaders he is likely to meet in China are President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and chairman of the Chinese Military Commission Jiang Zemin — a leader who continues to wield a lot of power even after stepping down as president.

Several agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) are likely to be signed during the visit, but Indian officials are reluctant to give details.

Indications are that attempts will be made by both sides to try and sort out some pending problems and create a situation in which the two countries would see each other as partners and not rivals.

Recognition of Sikkim as a part of India by China and Beijing’s support for Delhi’s candidature for a permanent slot in the UN Security Council may come as major confidence-building measures. But it is too early to predict whether the Chinese leadership is ready to move forward on either.

But what appears more certain is the keenness of the neighbours to boost growing trade and economic partnership.

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