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Indian PM Makes Goodwill Trip to China

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed trade and expanding relations with fellow Asian giant, China, during meetings in Beijing. VOA's Stephanie Ho has more from the Chinese capital.

Prime Minister Singh is the first Indian prime minister to visit China in five years.

Chinese television news reports showed the Indian leader meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in the Great Hall of the People. Prime Minister Singh also attended a business conference that included some of India's biggest companies, including Tata Group and Jet Airways.

China and India have a combined population of nearly 2.4 billion people. The two countries also have the world's two fastest-growing economies.

China's Commerce Ministry says bilateral trade between the two nations in 2007 was nearly $39 billion. But Indian leaders have expressed concern that this trade is increasingly skewed in China's favor.

Another contentious issue is a lingering border dispute that flared into war between the two countries in 1962.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang acknowledged that the issue has not yet been resolved. But Qin, speaking through an interpreter, said both sides showed the political will to solve the boundary issue.

"We are confident we can find a solution acceptable to both at an early date, which is equitable and fair," said Qin.

On another sensitive issue, Qin reemphasized that China hopes India does not allow Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to use Indian soil for, in his words, "activities aimed at splitting China." The Dalai Lama has lived in India since he fled China in 1959. He has advocated greater autonomy for Tibet, which China considers indisputably part of Chinese territory.

The Chinese spokesman added that the two sides exchanged views on India's traditional arch-rival Pakistan. He said Beijing is concerned with developments there, and wishes to see a Pakistan that maintains peace and stability.

China and India signed a lengthy document outlining the two countries' shared vision for the 21st century, which touched upon cooperation in areas like trade, energy and environmental issues. Qin called the document historic and said it is an indication that bilateral relations have made a big step forward.

Prime Minister Singh toured the Beijing Olympic facilities Sunday. He meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao Tuesday.

 

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