National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who is here on a 4-day visit as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Special Envoy, called on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at Zhongnanhai, the sprawling leadership compound next to the Forbidden City.
Wen warmly received Menon and appreciated Singh's commitment to the improvement of bilateral ties during their 40-minute meeting, a day ahead of the scheduled visit of President Asif Ali Zardari here against the backdrop of concerns expressed by India and the US over China's plans to build two new nuclear reactors for Pakistan without NSG's nod.
Menon handed over a letter from Singh, saying that the Prime Minister especially sent him with a personal message of friendship and his greetings and warm personal regards.
"For us in India the relationship with People's Republic of China is one of the most important that we have," Menon said.
Wen, on his part, said that "a healthy, stable and dynamic China-India relationship is of far-reaching significance to the two nations, Asia and the whole world at large."
"China regards India as an important strategic partner of cooperation. We will work with India to maintain high-level visits and take care of each other's core interests and major concerns," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Wen as telling Menon.
He pledged to enhance dialogue and cooperation with India to benefit the two peoples and make joint efforts to promote world peace and common prosperity. Wen also extended greetings to UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Menon said both India and China have developed rapidly in recent years and the two nations have established a strategic partnership of cooperation, with increasing mutual trust.
He said this has laid a sound foundation for strengthening bilateral cooperation.
With the world going through an important development phase, both India and China should take bigger role in directing its course, Menon said.
India would work with China to jointly make development planning and create new situations for the growth of bilateral ties, he noted.Wen told Menon that Singh had sent an "important and timely message" last year for the improvement of ties.
"This time you brought another personal letter from the Prime Minister" expressing similar sentiments, he said. "We highly appreciate his commitment to this relationship."
Wen also praised Menon's contribution to the improvement of Sino-India relations, recalling the days when he was India's Ambassador here.
"Menon, you are a Sinologist. You have long experience working in China and you have made great contribution to pushing forward friendly relationship between our two countries. I warmly welcome you to China," he said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who held lengthy preparatory talks with Menon yesterday on a host of issues, was also present during today's meeting.Commenting on Wen-Menon talks, officials here said the two sides discussed "a way forward" in their relations. They had an exchange of views on various aspects.
Premier Wen shared his ideas on how to take the relationship forward and emphasised that the ties went beyond the bilateral scope.
"It will be Asia's century if India and China have strong relationship," he told Menon.
During the meeting, Wen hailed 60 years of diplomatic ties between China and India, saying that the bilateral relationship has matured well, with deepening mutual political trust and remarkable achievements in cooperation in various sectors.
The two countries have also reached important agreements and made sound coordination in coping with the international financial crisis, climate change and other major issues, Wen noted.
He said China and India, as neighbours and large developing nations with largest populations, enjoyed not only profound historical and cultural origins but also broad common interests.
The National Security Adviser later held talks with State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who is also China's Special Representative in boundary talks with India.
From the Indian side, Menon is the designated official to hammer out an agreement to resolve differences over demarcation of the Sino-India border.However, this time Menon arrived here two days ago as Singh's Special Envoy to discuss a gamut of issues that weighed in India's mind to push the relationship forward.
Among such concerns were the continuation of close military and strategic ties between the Pakistani army and People's Liberation Army (PLA) and China's decision to build two 650 MW nuclear plants for Islamabad.China too has expressed its concerns in the past over the growing India-US strategic ties.Dai later hosted a banquet in honour of Menon.