Beijing: China has assured India that all preparatory steps are being taken to open the new route for pilgrims of Kailash and Manasarovar in Tibet through Sikkim in summer next year as promised by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The assurance was given by Jiang Jie, Vice Chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) during his meeting with Indian Ambassador Ashok K Kantha who is currently touring Tibet to make preparations for the Yatris and to expand border trade through Sikkim border.
During the meeting, Jiang recalled the recent successful visit of Xi to India and the decision taken during the visit to open an additional route for pilgrimage to Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar through the Nathu La Pass, an Indian Embassy press release here said on Tuesday.
Jiang assured Ambassador that all preparatory steps are being taken to open the new route in the summer of 2015, it said.
He also briefed Kantha about the efforts being taken by TAR government to upgrade the facilities for pilgrims through existing route across Lipulekh Pass. He also gave a briefing on the socio-economic situation in Tibet.
Kantha told Jiang that the Government of India appreciated the decision to open a new route for the pilgrimage through the Nathula Pass and hoped a large number of pilgrims would be able to use this route beginning the summer of 2015.
Both officials agreed that the two sides should work closely to ensure smooth commencement of the pilgrimage, the release said.
Kantha has called for expanding the inherent potential in trade and economic cooperation between Tibet and India.
The two sides also discussed the possibilities for expanding border trade through Nathu La.
There was a shared desire to expand cultural contacts. In this connection, Kantha invited the provincial government in Tibet to actively involve in the India-China Cultural Exchange Initiative that was launched during Xi's visit.
Also Kantha met Ju Jianhua, Director General of the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office and had a detailed discussion focussing on the modalities for opening new route. He also exchanged views with Bian Ba, Director General of Department of Commerce on the potential for expanding border trade through Nathula.
Kantha and Jiang are currently visiting Yadong, Shigatse, Renqinggang and Nathula mainly in the context of opening of Nathula for pilgrimage.
In addition, they will also explore the possibilities for expanding of border trade.
From October 24 to 25, they will be visiting places associated with pilgrimage to Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar in Ali Prefecture, the release said.