Menon heads to Beijing Sunday, dispels fears of rivalry

April 19th, 2008 - 6:04 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) A day before he heads to Beijing, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon Saturday struck an upbeat note on India’s burgeoning ties with China and sought to dispel fears about any competition or rivalry between two of Asia’s emerging powers. “There is enough strategic and economic space for India and China to grow together,” Menon said on the eve of his two-day visit, while speaking here at a seminar organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), an influential Britain-based think tank.

Alluding to India’s growing ties with China, Menon pointed out the multi-faceted nature of the engagement that includes rapidly expanding bilateral trade and joint military exercises between the two nations.

China has become India’s second largest trading partner with the two countries notching up bilateral trade worth around $40 billion. The two Asian nations, being hailed as rising powers, have set an ambitious target to achieve $60 billion bilateral trade by 2010.

Menon will discuss a host of bilateral, regional and global issues with top Chinese officials Monday. The talks between the two sides will focus on the likely approach of five outreach partners to the G8 summit of the world’s richest countries which Japan will host in the northern island of Hokkaido this July.

The outreach countries, also called G-5 India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa - are trying to coordinate their positions on global issues like multilateral trade negotiations and climate change.

Climate change will be among the priority agenda of the G-8 meeting.

As Menon’s visit takes place soon after the smooth passage of the Olympic torch relay in New Delhi, the Chinese leadership is expected to reiterate its appreciation of the Indian government for ensuring the safety of the torch relay as well as protection of the Chinese embassy and consulates in India from Tibetan protests.

Menon’s visit will also firm up the agenda for External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s likely visit to Beijing in June.

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