Chinese Premier regrets not meeting Pranab

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Beijing, Jun 6 (UNI) Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has expressed regret, in a written message, for not being able to meet visiting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mr Wen was scheduled to meet Mr Mukherjee today, but the meeting was called off as the Chinese Premier had to visit the earthquake-hit Sichuan province. A swollen ''quake lake'' in the southwestern province threatened the lives of thousands of people downstream.

In the message, delivered to Mr Mukherjee through Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Mr Wen said, ''I was quite eager to meet you but regret that the meeting has been called off. I wish to see you in the future.'' The Tangjiashan lake in Sichuan was the largest quake lake formed after last month's earthquake triggered landslides that blocked rivers. The water level was quickly rising, raising fears of another catastrophe after the earthquake.

Mr Mukherjee, who is on a four-day visit to China, met Vice President Xi Jinping instead.

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