Pranab to be feted in Beijing's "Forbidden City"

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Guangzhou, June 4 : China has said that it attaches great importance to the visit of Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and this is will be reflected when Beijing not only rolls out the red carpet for the visiting dignitary, but by also making elobarate arrangements to pamper Mukherjee's taste buds.

In what is seen as an unprecedented gesture by officialdom, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi will be hosting a dinner for his Indian counterpart in the ancient "Forbidden City", once the home of the Chinese imperial dynasty, and now used to fete the Chinese elite and very special foreign guests.

Interstingly, both Jeichi and Mukherjee share a very good chemistry. Pranab has often called Jeichi his ' young counterpart'.

This is Pranab Mukherjee's first bilateral visit to China. Last year, he had visited Harbin Province for troika talks between India, Russia and China. This is first high-level bilateral interaction between both nations after the global anti-China demonstrations against the Olympic torch relay and the right of Bijing to host the Olympics in August 2008. The demonstrations were targetted against Chinese strong arm tactics against Tibetans in Lhasa.

So intense was the protest in various parts of the world, including in New Delhi, that authorities in Beijing did not hesitate to summon India's Ambassador to China, Nirupama Rao, at 2 a.m. at night to state their objections to the protests.

Other than the review of talks held by the joint working group on the border issue, both countries will also review the status of bilateral trade which is targetted to reach 60 billion dollars by 2010.

During his four-day visit to China, Mukherjee is also expected to hand over another consignment of aid to victims of the May 12 earthquake in China's south west Sichuan Province. He is expected to halt briefly in the provincial capital Chengdu on his way back to New Delhi. China has already hailed India's gesture of providing aid to the earthquake-affected.

During his visit, Mukherjee will make courtesy calls on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing.

The Indian Foreign Minister will also deliver a lecture on Indian foreign policy at Peking University and will also hand over the prestigious Padma Bhushan to 94-year-old bedridden Sanskrit lingusit Ji Xianhen.

Xianhen translated the entire Ramayan into Chinese secretly at the height of the Cultural Revolution. His name for the coveted Padma Bhushan award was announced this year. By Naveen Kapoor

ANI

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