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Lauding China's progress, Vajpayee
extends hand of friendship

Anil K Joseph in Beijing | June 23, 2003 11:19 IST

Lauding the progress it has made in recent times, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Monday extended a hand of friendship to China and an offer to develop a bilateral relationship that embodies peace, friendship, goodwill and cooperation between the two Asian giants.

"India and China are not only neighbours but also the world's most populous countries. I have come here with the message of peace, friendship, goodwill, trust and cooperation," Vajpayee told his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao during their first ever meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

During the one-hour meeting, he also congratulated Wen on being appointed premier of the People's Republic of China.

"You must be aware that this is not my first visit to China. I had come here in 1979 as foreign minister and later as a Member of Parliament along with former prime minister Narasimha Rao in 1993."

"In such a short time, China has made commendable progress," he said.

Welcoming Vajpayee, Wen said, "The Chinese government attaches importance to your visit. The Chinese people are also paying close attention to your visit. I believe that your current visit will certainly make a major impact on further development of our relationship in the future."

Earlier, Vajpayee was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of the People where the tri-service Chinese Army presented an impressive Guard of Honour.

Later, the two prime ministers began their talks. Though scheduled to last 30 minutes, it went on for an hour.

India and China also signed nine agreements, including one on easing of visa restrictions.

On Tuesday, Vajpayee would meet with the Jiang Zemin, who till March was the president.

Later, he will address a business meeting that would be attended by captains of Indian and Chinese industry.

PM in China: Complete Coverage

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