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Home > News > PTI

Sonia first leader to meet Hu after Communist party meet

October 25, 2007 10:38 IST
Last Updated: October 25, 2007 12:46 IST

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] arrived in Beijing [Images] on Thursday to meet and exchange views with the newly-elected Chinese Communist Party leadership on a range of bilateral issues.

The Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance is accompanied by her son and All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi [Images] on the five-day visit which is expected to boost bilateral relations that are already on the upswing.

Gandhi is scheduled to meet Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Hu Jintao on Friday.

She will also have meetings with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Politburo member Liu Qi. Gandhi will call on former Chinese Foreign Minister Huang Hua, who had played a major role in fostering bilateral ties in the early stages of Sino-Indian relations.

In a rare honour, Sonia is expected to be the first leader of a foreign political party to meet with Hu and Wen, both re-elected to the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee on Monday.

Amid tight security, Sonia was received at the Beijing International Airport by Indian Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao and senior officials from the Indian Embassy and the CPC.

Sonia is accompanied by a high-level party delegation comprising senior Congress leader Karan Singh and ministers of state Anand Sharma and Prithviraj Chavan.

Sonia will also visit Xian, one of China's ancient capitals in northwest China and Shanghai, the Communist giant's gleaming commercial hub in the east.

Sonia's visit comes at a time when the India-United States civilian nuclear agreement has become a bone of contention between the UPA and the Left Front, but the nuclear issue may not figure in her talks with the top Chinese leaders, analysts said.

According to them, it is highly unlikely that the Chinese side will raise this matter in their discussions and will instead focus on how the two can improve party-to-party interactions.

"Officially, the Chinese view the Indo-US nuclear deal as a bilateral issue between India and the United States. Moreover, China does not want to be seen interfering in India's internal affairs," one source said.

A senior official from the CPC's International Department said that the party has made all arrangements to ensure a successful visit. He added that Beijing fondly remembers her late husband and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi because of his important contribution to the promotion and development of Sino-Indian relations.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has stated that China attaches 'great importance' to Sonia's visit and it will have an important role in the further development of Sino-Indian relations.

"China attaches great importance to her visit and believes the visit will play an important role in promoting mutual understanding, bilateral relations and cooperation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

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