BEIJING (Agence France-Presse) — Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here yesterday for talks with China’s leaders as the two most populous nations look to turn their combined clout into a major force in global affairs.
It is the first visit by an Indian prime minister in five years as the Asian powerhouses, which account for one-third of the world’s people, try to set aside lingering disputes and establish a partnership on the international stage.
He said he hopes to discuss a wide range of issues with Chinese leaders, including U.N. reforms, regional dialogue and global issues such as climate change, energy security, international trade and counterterrorism.
Upon arrival, Mr. Singh visited an Olympic venue as part of the three-day trip before holding talks with his counterpart Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao today and tomorrow, a Chinese official said.
Five agreements are to be signed during the visit, including pacts covering railways, housing and traditional medicine, officials said, as the two nations look to deepen ties and overcome decades of mistrust.
China and India also have competed for resources in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, in recent years, with Chinese companies beating their Indian rivals for lucrative gas and pipeline contracts in the isolated Southeast Asian state.
Along with Mr. Singh, India is sending Commerce Minister Kamal Nath to lead a trade delegation, with New Delhi looking to rein in a trade gap with China that it says has jumped from $4 billion to $9 billion since 2006.
“In the last few years, trade shifted in China’s favor, and we are hoping to change that,” he said.
The nations agreed in November 2006 to double trade to $40 billion by 2010. According to Chinese statistics, bilateral trade amounted to $34.2 billion from January to November in 2007.
Officials said the two sides also will work on a long-standing territorial dispute, which led to a brief war in 1962.
In his interview, Mr. Singh said that settlement of the boundary would “advance the basic interests of the two countries and should therefore be pursued as a strategic objective.”
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