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India, China Affirm Growing Ties

  • Anjana Pasricha

India and China have pledged to consolidate ties and boost trade at the start of a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to India. The Chinese leader's visit aims to foster closer relations between the two growing powers in Asia.

After a summit meeting on Tuesday in New Delhi, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh struck an optimistic note about the future of relations between Asia's largest countries.

President Hu says there is enough room for both the emerging powers to develop simultaneously, and says their relationship is of "global significance."

"As China and India are two friends and cooperation partners, our two countries need to carry forward our friendship in the long run, work hand-in-hand for cooperation and common development and work together to promote peace and development in Asia and the world at large," he said.

Trade, which is booming between the world's two fastest growing economies, will remain a cornerstone of that relationship. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India and China have pledged to double trade by 2010.

"President Hu and I have agreed that comprehensive economic and commercial engagement between India and China will receive our urgent and particular attention. We will endeavor to raise the volume of bilateral trade to U.S. dollars 40 billion by 2010 and encourage two-way investment flows."

Mr. Hu is the first Chinese president to visit India in decade.

The two leaders also addressed old political issues that have left lingering tensions in their relationship since they fought a 1962 border war. Both said efforts will be made quickly to resolve the remaining boundary dispute. More than two decades of talks have failed to reach a settlement.

The two countries - seen by some as rivals in Asia - said they have put in place a strategy to consolidate growing ties.

They also signed 13 agreements ranging from opening new consulates, to cooperation in science and technology, and increasing cultural exchanges.

The Chinese leader will also visit Agra and travel to the financial hub of Mumbai before departing for Islamabad on Thursday.

Groups of Tibetans held scattered protests in New Delhi for a second day on Tuesday, although police ensured they remained far away from the visiting Chinese leader.

The protesters are demanding independence or autonomy for Tibet, which China controls. India is home to the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists, and a community of 120,000 Tibetans.

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