Chinese PM's first overseas trip likely to be to India in May

New Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is likely to visit India next month, in what could become the Chinese political leader's first overseas visit. Li's India trip is being seen as a reaching-out exercise by the new Chinese leadership, barely a month after it took charge in Beijing. It is learnt that New Delhi and Beijing are discussing dates in the second-half of May.

This is significant since it was the Indian Prime Minister's turn to go to China, after former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited India in December'2010. The usual diplomatic practice is to schedule a bilateral visit from each side, on an alternate basis. However, since the Chinese side is quite keen, they are planning to depart from this normal practice.

Earlier, there were plans of a reciprocal visit from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in June, but now there has been a rethink, and sources discounted the proposition of "back-to-back" visits.

Sources said that Indian Ambassador in Beijing S Jaishankar, who is in Delhi for the next couple of days to attend the Conference of heads of missions from the India's neighbourhood, will be discussing these plans.

The warmth being extended by the new leadership in Beijng was visible in Durban, where the Chinese President Xi Jinping had a full-fledged bilateral meeting with Singh on the sidelines of the BRICS summit last month. This comes at a time when an assertive China is dealing with its neighbours, including Japan, on maritime issues.

The trajectory in the relationship was set into motion shortly after the election of Li, since hours after he was elected as China's new Premier, Li Keqiang had called up Singh saying he was looking forward to strengthening bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries.

PM had then congratulated Li on his election and expressed his desire to work together with China's new leadership. The telephonic conversation had happened hours after the 57-year-old Chinese leader was appointed Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.

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