Mamata Banerjee cancels China visit as Beijing fails to confirm 'political meetings'

The Trinamool Congress chief was slated to leave for China tonight.

Mamata Banerjee cancels China visit as Beijing fails to confirm 'political meetings'

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday cancelled her scheduled visit to China as the authorities there could not confirm "political meetings at the appropriate level". This was confirmed by West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief was slated to leave for China tonight.

The TMC chief was scheduled to lead a delegation to China under the exchange programme of the Government of India with the International Department of the Communist Party of China.

Speaking to reporters, Mitra said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is presently out of the country, and Foreign Secretary VK Gokhale were informed about the cancellation of Banerjee's visit to China.

The firebrand West Bengal wrote a Facebook post and explained what led to the cancellation of her much-expected visit to China.

"In March this year, the Union Minister of External Affairs had recommended to me to kindly consider leading a delegation to China in the coming months under the Exchange Programme of the Government of India with the International Department of the Communist Party of China," she wrote.

Stating that she had agreed to the proposal, Banerjee said, "I mentioned to her that since the interest of my country is involved, I wish to visit China sometime during last week of June, 2018."

She added that pursuant to letters from the state chief secretary and the ambassador of India in China, a programme was chalked out and the visit was planned.

Till yesterday, everything was "going well", the Chief Minister said, adding that unfortunately, "the political meetings at the appropriate level" could not be confirmed.

"It has now been intimated by our Ambassador in China that the political meetings at the appropriate level under the Exchange Programme could not be confirmed. Therefore, the purpose of my visit with a delegation to China under the Exchange Programme is of no use," she said.

Banerjee said although the Indian Ambassador in China tried his best to make her visit a success, the non-confirmation of the political meetings "at the last moment", had "unfortunately compelled us to cancel the visit".

"However, I wish the continuation of the friendship of India and China in the days to come and it should strengthen further in the interest of both the countries," she added. 

(With PTI inputs)

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