Spurt in bilateral meetings

Informed sources in the government told Deccan Herald on Tuesday that Singh and Hu may hold discussions on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues and the two sides are working on to set up the meeting.

The two leaders have met several times over the past few years, the last one being at Yekaterinberg in June 2009 on the sidelines of the SCO (Shanghai Co-operation Organisation). Singh met Chinese premier Wen Jiabao twice in 2009. These have been now followed by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna’s ongoing four-day visit to Beijing. He will be meeting Wen and foreign minister Yang Jiechi on Wednesday.

The visits will be taken to a new high as President Pratibha Patil visits Beijing later this year. From the Chinese side, its vice president or speaker of Parliament is likely to visit India soon.

“These high-level meetings are an outcome of activity on several fronts, be it defence, commerce etc,” said external affairs ministry’s joint secretary Gautam Bambawale. “We already have had an active three months this year. Commerce ministers of the two countries met in January, followed by annual defence dialogue and foreign office consultations. The Festival of India, happening in 33 Chinese cities and Festival of China in India are likely to draw big crowds,” he said.

Foreign ministry sources say there is a lot happening on the positive side although media has been focusing on tension on the border or stapled visas for Kashmiris. “Both the countries are making efforts to come closer. It will lead to improved understanding of a range of issues,” said the sources.

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