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Manmohan Singh leaves on Russia, China visit; border issue to top agenda

Sunday, 20 October 2013 - 10:59am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI
In a statement before leaving on a five-day visit to Russia and China, he, however, made no reference to negotiations on a deal for setting up of two new nuclear reactors in the Russian-aided Kudankulam power project.
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Indicating that the proposed border cooperation agreement with China will top the agenda during his visit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said he will discuss the issue with Premier Li Keqiang with a forward- looking and problem-solving approach.

In a statement before leaving on a five-day visit to Russia and China, he, however, made no reference to negotiations on a deal for setting up of two new nuclear reactors in the Russian-aided Kudankulam power project.

"India and China have historical issues and there are areas of concern. The two governments are addressing them with sincerity and maturity, without letting them affect the overall atmosphere of friendship and cooperation," Singh said.

"I will be discussing some of these issues as part of strategic communication between leaders with a forward-looking and problem-solving approach," he said in the departure statement.

Singh noted that together India and China have reached important consensus on maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border and made preliminary progress towards settlement of the India-China boundary question.

Officials on both sides are working on a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) to avoid face-off between their armies against the backdrop of a prolonged intrusion by People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the Depsang Valley in Ladakh during this summer.

There are indications that the agreement may be signed during the visit.

On Wednesday, after discussion and lunch with the Chinese Premier, Prime Minister Singh will be hosted a dinner by President Xi Jinping, a rare honour for an Indian leader.

As the world's two most populous nations and largest emerging economies, India and China today have a growing congruence of regional, global and economic interests, driven by respective developmental aspirations and shaped by the evolving strategic environment, Singh said.

Peaceful, friendly and cooperative relations between India and China have provided conditions for both the countries and the wider region to grow with stability, he said.

During the visit, the Prime Minister will discuss with Chinese interlocutors ways and means to consolidate common strategic interests.

"I will also be sharing my thoughts on India-China dynamics in the new era with the future leaders of China through an address at the Central Party School in Beijing," Singh said.

He said the Beijing visit will provide an opportunity to continue discussions with the new leadership of China that took over earlier this year and return Premier Li's visit to India in May on his first overseas trip as the head of the new Chinese government.

Noting that China is India's largest neighbour and one of the top trading partners, Singh said, "In my last 9 years in office as Prime Minister, I have worked closely with Chinese leaders to establish a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership and put in place comprehensive mechanisms for cooperation and dialogue and to address bilateral issues between our two countries."

Referring to his visit to Russia from today, he said the annual summit with the country, which has been held since 2000, is an important feature of the special and privileged strategic partnership.

Singh will be participating in the 14th annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, his fifth in Moscow.

"The scope of our relationship with Russia is unique, encompassing strong and growing cooperation in areas such as defence, nuclear energy, science and technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges," Singh said.

"I will convey to President Putin the importance we attach to our relations with Russia, and I will use this visit to strengthen our partnership in every possible way," the Prime Minister said.

Noting that India and Russia have always had a convergence of views on global and regional issues, Singh said India values Russia's perspective on international developments of mutual interest.

He said that he was looking forward to exchanging views with President Putin on a broad range of international developments, including the conflict and turbulence in West Asia as also closer to India, particularly in Afghanistan.

"I will convey to President Putin our interest in deepening our consultations and coordination on international issues," he said.

After talks and a working lunch with the Russian President on October 21, the Prime Minister will be conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

"I am honoured at this gesture, which is also testimony to the relations between our two countries," Singh said on the Doctorate he will be conferred with during his visit.

On his two-nation tour, Singh said, "I am confident that my visit will strengthen our relations with two of our most important partners and create new strategic opportunities for India's growth, prosperity and development in a stable external environment."

Singh said the list of areas of bilateral cooperation with China was impressive. They included trade, investment, infrastructure, trans-border rivers, energy, agriculture, science and technology, youth and people-to-people engagement and many more.

"We are constantly exploring new ways, like sub-regional connectivity, to impart dynamism to our cooperation. We hope to take forward our engagement in many of these areas during my visit," he said.


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