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Amid tension, PM to meet Chinese premier

By Krishnakumar P
October 21, 2009 21:06 IST
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Days after India and China traded charges of interference in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh respectively, the leaders of the two countries will meet on the sidelines of the seventh ASEAN summit.

"Relations between India and China cover a wide range. All the subjects of mutual interest will be covered," Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, N Ravi, said on Wednesday.

Though Ravi said that the bilateral meetings haven't been scheduled, sources said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and premier Wen Jiabo might meet on Saturday. The summit begins in the resort town of Hua Hin in Thailand on Friday.

Relations between India and China have been frosty in the recent months with India contesting Chinese involvement in projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

China, on the other hand, issued a statement questioning Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims is a disputed territory.

Prime Minister Singh will participate in three summits, including the ASEAN summit from October 23-25, and the fourth East Asian summit.

Indo-ASEAN trade accounts for 10 per cent of India's total global trade. In 2007-08, trade had reached 38 billion dollars. Provisional figures indicate that 2008-09 might also have similar figures.

Apart from trade, ASEAN countries are looking at India for English language and information technology training.

"India-ASEAN ties have assumed greater significance in the last few years. And it has especially taken a special role after the recent global economic an financial crisis. While most world countries were affected, the fact remains that many among the Asian countries, including India, have been able to meet some of these challenges with a significant amount of success. This would be one of the main subjects of discussion," Ravi said. 

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Krishnakumar P in New Delhi