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May 19, 2013

Indian, Chinese Leaders Meet to Strengthen Ties

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in India Sunday at the start of a three-day visit, just days after the peaceful end of a tense border standoff in the Himalayan mountains.

China says placing India first on the itinerary of new Premier Li Keqiang demonstrates the importance Beijing places on the relationship between the two countries.

The Chinese premier and his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are expected to address how to smooth over a lingering border dispute between the world's two most populous countries.

The Chinese leader's visit comes less than two weeks after the two sides ended a standoff that began when India strongly protested what it called a Chinese incursion into the Ladakh region of the Himalayas. Tensions subsided when the two sides restored the status quo.



Since then, both countries have made conciliatory moves and indicated that the process of settling their unmarked border should be speeded up. Numerous rounds of talks since the 1990s have made little headway.

Although the border dispute will figure more prominently than earlier planned, a significant focus of the visit will be the blossoming economic ties between the two big, fast-growing Asian economies.

Premier Li will be accompanied by a large business delegation, and will visit the financial hub of Mumbai, where he meets top business leaders and visits India's largest Information Technology company (Tata Consultancy Services).

Indian leaders are likely to urge Premier Li to do more to fix a trade deficit. Although bilateral trade grew to $76 billion last year, there are concerns in New Delhi that the trade is skewed in China's favor.

New Delhi wants more access for its companies in the IT and pharmaceutical sectors, where India has an advantage. Indian officials say "they hope for results very soon."