Pranab to host special dinner for Chinese foreign minister

September 7th, 2008 - 6:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Ignoring suggestions of a “negative” role played by China at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting in Vienna, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is hosting a special dinner and a cultural show to receive Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi here Monday.Yang arrived in Kolkata Sunday on a three-day official visit - his first as foreign minister.

In New Delhi, Yang will have talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mukherjee and senior officials in the foreign policy establishment.

The Chinese side has sought a meeting between Yang and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi but it has not been finalised.

Reports from Vienna suggested that China, which initially refrained from saying much on the India-specific waiver from the NSG, started playing an “active role” to try block a consensus before the nuclear cartel decided to give India the waiver Saturday.

The issue may come up during discussions between Yang and the Indian leadership Monday. But Mukherjee is not sparing any effort to make his Chinese guest comfortable while he is here.

The Chinese minister had broken away from past practices when he hosted a dinner for Mukherjee when he visited Beijing earlier this year at the ‘forbidden city’ - an honour reserved for select world leaders.

A kathak dance is part of the cultural event Mukherjee has planned for his Chinese guest before the two sides sit down to dinner here Monday evening. Yang is scheduled to arrive in the city that afternoon.

All aspects of bilateral relations will come up for review in talks between Mukherjee and Yang.

The focus will be on regional developments as well as international issues like world trade talks, energy security and climate change, on which the two sides have been working closely.

On Tuesday, Yang will deliver a lecture on the India-China “Strategic Partnership” at the Hyatt Regency hotel before leaving India.

The Chinese are saying they never tried to block the NSG waiver. The fact that NSG finally gave India the waiver shows Beijing did not block it, Chinese sources said.

They pointed out that China had only suggested that if no agreement can be reached within the two-day meeting of the NSG that began Thursday, another special session can be convened.

India-China relations have shown an upward swing, especially since the Congress-led government came to power in Delhi in 2004. A number of high-level visits between the two sides have taken place in the four years, including one by President Hu and another by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

A number of senior leaders from India visited China this year. It started with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January, followed within a few months by Mukherjee.

Gandhi and her son and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited China in October 2007. This August, Sonia Gandhi along with her daughter Priyanka Vadra and her family were the guests of the Chinese government for the inaugural ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

The Congress and the Communist Party of China have also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance regular visits and close interaction among their leaders.

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