India, China to begin high-level meetings ahead of Wen visit



New Delhi: India and China will hold their strategic dialogue next week, to firm up the agenda for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi, when Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao goes to Beijing Tuesday.

Rao will accompany External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to the central Chinese city of Wuhan Sunday for the 10th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China.

Krishna will discuss with China's Yang Jiechi and Russia's Sergei Lavrov ways and means to deepen trilateral cooperation in a wide array of areas, ranging from the UN Security Council reforms and the Asia-Pacific security to counter-terrorism and regional issues like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The United Nations reforms will be discussed, Vishnu Prakash, spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, told reporters.

Issues relating to India's membership of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will also be discussed.

The joint communique of the two-day Russia-India-China trilateral meeting Monday is expected to call for quickening the process of reforms of the UN Security Council.

The trilateral meeting will continue dialogue on building confidence among the three emerging powers and deal with expanding strategic cooperation to forge multi-polar world order.

Bolstered by the US backing, India is expected to press China for categorical support to its bid for UN Security Council permanent membership and to discuss contentious issues like stapled visas when Krishna meets his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the trilateral meeting.

These issues will be discussed in greater details when Rao heads to Beijing from Wuhan Tuesday for the fourth round of strategic dialogue that will firm up the agenda for the visit of Wen to India, likely in mid-December.

In his bilateral talks with Yang, Krishna is likely to press him for more explicit support by China for India's candidature for the UN Security Council and also press Beijing to join the process of consultations for the reform of the Security Council.

Krishna is also likely to press his Chinese counterpart to stop the Chinese policy of issuing stapled visas for Indian citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, that is seen by New Delhi as a deliberate move to question its sovereignty over its northern state.

A day after Obama backed India's bid for permanent seat in the UNSC Nov 8, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson struck a positive note in Beijing, saying China was ready for consultations on the issue and values India's status in international affairs. This was seen by some observers here as "a step forward".

IANS