PM Modi to visit China to repair bilateral ties

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NEW DELHI- In an effort to repair India-China relations and take the engagement to the next level, officials are working on a bilateral visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China within the next few weeks.

Officials will not confirm the venue for the visit, which will come ahead of the Prime Minister’s trip to Qingdao for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in June. Wuhan and Kunming are possible options, as they are closer than Beijing from Delhi.

While reports of a bilateral visit by the Prime Minister to “reset” ties between the two countries have been circulating for some weeks, speculation grew about its timing after National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval made an unannounced visit to Shanghai on Thursday and Friday and met Politburo member and Special Representative Yang Jiechi.

The NSA’s sudden visit appeared to take the External Affairs Ministry off-guard as well. During a briefing on Thursday, after the NSA had left for China , the Ministry’s spokesperson said, “At this point of time, frankly, I have no information about the visit ... If a visit is taking place, we will let you know.”

A Ministry press release issued on Friday, however, said the NSA’s visit was “part of regular, high-level engagements between India and China” in which Mr. Doval and Mr. Yang discussed matters of “mutual interest”.

“The two sides agreed to maintain the pace of high-level exchanges to fully realise the potential of a closer development partnership between India and China ,” the statement said.

An official, however, said Mr. Modi’s “visit is being worked on, and there maybe some announcement in the next week itself”.

New Delhi