'My visit to China aimed at strengthening bilateral ties,' says Krishna

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New Delhi/onboard aircraft,Apr.5 (ANI): External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna said on Monday that his four-day visit to China was being undertaken with an aim to consolidate bilateral ties between New Delhi and Beijing.

"This visit of mine is to further strengthen the relationship. It also happens to be the 60th year of the beginning of the diplomatic relationship between China and India. Hence, this is something which calls for a celebration, so both of us decided that we should celebrate this on a big scale, focussing on a cultural identities of the respective countries," Krishna said onboard his aircraft.

Krishna travels to China to strengthen ties, recently improved by a trade boom and cooperation over climate change that shifted the focus away from the two countries' border dispute.

The world's two most populous nations are putting the global financial crisis behind them more quickly than developed countries, and want to build on a decade of commercial growth that has pushed China to the top of India's list of trade partners.

Nearly half a century after war broke out between them, mistrust persists, especially over the 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq. miles) of land in Arunachal Pradesh state claimed by Beijing.

India is also participating in a big way in Shanghai World Expo in May.

The bilateral trade boom has been a mixed blessing for India, now grappling with a deficit in China's favour, which ballooned from a billion dollars in 2001-2 to 16 billion dollars in 2007-8, according to Indian central bank data.

But both sides say bilateral trade and investment lag far behind their potential and have agreed to even out trade flows.

The two countries are expected to lead a 9.5 percent expansion in global trade volumes projected by the World Trade Organisation in 2010.

Foreign Minister Krishna's visit also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China.

During his stay in China, Krishna will also inaugurate Festival of India and attend a function to mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two Asian giants.

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that bilateral relations between the two countries have diversified into almost every field of human endeavour.

"The agenda for the visit is comprehensive; it embraces all aspects of the relationship. Our relations have diversified into almost every field of human endeavour today and that is really the hallmark of bilateral relations between India and China. These are relations of the world's emerging powers; these are relations between two important and big neighbours in Asia," she said.

A host of issues, including China's involvement in construction projects in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (POK), stapled visas for Kashmiris and the imbalance in trade with China are likely to be raised during the visit.

India had protested in November last year against a Chinese embassy policy of issuing different visas to residents of Kashmir. By Lokendra Singh (ANI)

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