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China visit a milestone in Sino-India relations: Sonia
Anil K Joseph and Raghavendra in Beijing | October 26, 2007 12:06 IST
Last Updated: October 26, 2007 16:48 IST
Describing her ongoing visit to China as a milestone in Sino-Indian relations, Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] on Friday said that she was 'amazed and astounded' at the progress made by the neighbouring country.
Gandhi's first political engagement, on the second day of her five-day visit, was a meeting with Wang Jiarui, the Minister of the International Department of the ruling Communist Party of China.
"This trip is a milestone in strengthening the relations between the two countries," Gandhi said.
Welcoming Gandhi, Wang told her, "Your visit has captured the attention of the whole world."
Responding to the warm words of welcome, Gandhi, accompanied by her son and All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi [Images] and a high-level party delegation, said, "I am amazed and astounded at the progress made by the people of China and its leadership."
Gandhi recalled that Chinese President Hu Jintao, who was recently elected CPC General Secretary, had invited her to visit China when he was in India last November.
The United Progressive Alliance chairperson also recalled that she had visited China 19 years ago with her husband, the late Rajiv Gandhi.
Apart from Rahul, senior Congress leader Karan Singh and Union Ministers Prithviraj Chavan and Anand Sharma and Indian Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao were also present at the meeting.
Earlier, the delegation visited the Capital Museum in Beijing [Images], where Sonia was shown glimpses of Chinese history and culture.
Sonia will meet Hu on Friday evening and call on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao later in the afternoon. She will also exchange views with the newly-elected Chinese Communist Party leadership on a range of bilateral and party-to-party issues.
She will also meet Politburo member Liu Qi and 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 after they were re-elected to the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee on Monday at the first plenum of the 17th National Congress of the Party.
Besides Beijing, 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.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said that China attaches 'great importance' to her visit and it will play an important role in the further development of Sino-Indian relations.