Priyanka Gandhi and family may attend Olympic inaugural ceremony

July 30th, 2008 - 3:28 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) Priyanka Gandhi, husband Robert Vadra, and their children Raihan and Miraya are all set to go for the inaugural ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, official sources said. The Communist Party of China had extended an invitation to Congress president and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and “her family”.

Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan met Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence July 24 and formally invited her to attend the inaugural ceremony of the games, which begin Aug 8.

“She received the ambassador very warmly but has not yet given her confirmation about attending the inaugural ceremony. But it is very likely that Priyanka Gandhi and her family are going for the ceremony,” a Chinese embassy official told the IANS.

Sources said the visa formalities for Priyanka and her family were being completed. Though there is also the possibility of Rahul Gandhi accompanying them to Beijing, so far his visit has not been confirmed.

A few more Congress leaders and ministers, including Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, may be part of the Indian delegation to Beijing for the inaugural ceremony.

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi both visited Beijing last October. Their successful visit was followed by an official trip to China by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January this year. The series of high level visits are indicative of the growing ties between the two countries.

The process of normalising relations with Beijing had begun when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was in power.

Since then, there have been many high levels meetings between the two sides, including a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in 2005 and a year later by President Hu Jintao.

The Communist Party of China has had traditional strong links with the Congress party and more particularly with the Nehru-Gandhi family. According to most experts, it was Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing in 1988 as India’s prime minister that began the thawing process in Sino-Indian relations that were put in the cold storage after the two sides went to war in 1962.

Though it is not clear yet whether Sonia Gandhi will finally go to Beijing for the inaugural ceremony, if she does, it will be yet another indication of the two countries’ resolve to put aside their differences and build a strong bilateral relationship.

“But a lot may depend on the role China plays both at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to push through the draft on the Indo-US nuclear deal,” a South Block official said.

On Aug 1, the 35-members of the IAEA board of governors will discuss and vote a safeguard agreement between the Agency and India. Subsequently, a US sponsored draft seeking waiver for India on the existing guidelines of the NSG will also be put before the 45-members of the NSG.

China, which is one of the five declared nuclear weapons power in the world, is a member of the IAEA board of governors and the NSG. The role it plays - explicit or implicit -will be carefully watched by the Indian establishment and can play an important role in future ties with the country.

The possibility of Sonia Gandhi leading the Indian delegation for the inaugural ceremony in Beijing for the Olympic Games may brighten after it becomes clear what kind of support China will lend at the IAEA and what it plans to do at the NSG.

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