Ahead of his visit to New Delhi, China's new Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday said India and China "must shake hands" to make Asia an "engine of the world economy".
Addressing the 100-member Indian youth delegation at Zhongnanhai, the imperial gardens housing the headquarters of China's ruling Communist Party and central government, Li spoke warmly about his visit to India 27 years ago as the leader of a youth delegation.
The fond memories of that visit made him choose India as the destination of his first overseas visit, he said.
Li will reach New Delhi on May 19.
"Many people in the world believe that in the 21st century, the Asia-Pacific, Asia in particular, will play a more important role in global economy and politics and that Asia will become an important engine for the world economy," he said.
"For this vision to truly come true, our two countries must shake hands and conduct exchanges so that together we can raise the standing of Asia in the world and truly make Asian economy an important engine for the world economy," he said, avoiding any references to the recent border stand-off near Ladakh, which was resolved after 20 days.
"The linkage of our two vast markets will bring tangible benefits to people in both countries and provide strong impetus for world economic growth and prosperity as well as that in Asia," he said.
"People say Asia represents the hope for the future of the world. That I think is because of you, the young people. To turn this hope into reality, we must start with exchanges between the young people of the two countries," he said.
Recalling his visit to India over two decades ago, he said, "What I saw and felt during that trip, visiting Taj Mahal and prestigious Indian universities, the research institutes and the warmth and hospitality of the Indian people, left a lasting impact on me".
"In a few days, I will make India the first stop of the first overseas visit as the premier of China. I have made this decision not just because India is an important neighbour and one of the most populous countries of the world, but also because of the seeds of friendship sown during my own youth," he said.