Wen arrives; says visit to promote friendship

Wen arrives; says visit to promote friendship

New Delhi: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived here Wednesday on a three-day visit which he said was to promote friendship and expand cooperation between the two countries which have seen comprehensive and rapid progress.

Immediately after his arrival here, Wen said, “My current visit is aimed at promoting friendship, expanding cooperation, building on our past achievements and opening up new dimensions for mutual benefit and common development of the two countries."

China and India are connected by mountains and rivers and enjoy a traditional friendship dating back more than 2,000 years, said Wen, adding that this year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two neighbours.

“China-India relations face major opportunities and enjoy broad prospects," the Chinese premier said in a statement, adding that the friendship and cooperation between the two sides have seen comprehensive and rapid progress.

During his visit, Wen is expected to address some of India’s key concerns like those on stapled visas for Jammu and Kashmir residents, its bid for permanent membership in UNSC and growing trade imbalance when he hold talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.

The visit is taking place after elaborate rounds of talks at various levels starting with the candid meeting between Wen and Singh at Hanoi in October, creating high expectations to remove some of the major irritants like stapled visas, which created furore in India.

Accompanied by a biggest delegation ever of 400 businessmen, senior ministers and officials, Wen will begin his stay with a meeting with business community followed by a visit to Tagore International School to interact with children who are learning Chinese language.

This will be followed by his presenting a China-India Friendship award and later attending a private dinner, hosted by Singh.

The Chinese Premier’s arrival was also marked by a protest by a group of Tibetans, who staged a demonstration shouting anti-China slogans and waving Tibetan flags. They also carried placards which read ‘Free Tibet Wen, Free Tibet Now’.

India is the first leg of Wen’s two-nation trip. He is also to pay an official visit to Pakistan on Friday.