Indian foreign minister says her visit to Beijing is a ‘preparatory’ one in advance of the prime minister’s trip.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China in May, the foreign minister said Sunday during her own three-day visit to Beijing.
“Mr. Modi is going to come in May. I will give them dates today. This is a preparatory visit,” Sushma Swaraj told Indian reporters in Beijing, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.
Swaraj is holding three-way talks with her Chinese and Russian counterparts during the trip, her first official visit since she took office last year.
U.S. President Barack Obama last week paid a high-profile visit to India aimed at bolstering ties between the two countries, which share an interest in curbing China’s growing regional influence. Although neither side mentioned China by name during Obama’s three-day visit, the U.S. president welcomed what he called a “greater role for India in the Asia-Pacific” and said freedom of navigation in the region must be upheld.
Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
Modi is widely seen as taking a more assertive line on China than the previous government. But experts say he will be careful not to alienate China, whose investment he desperately needs as he tries to boost India’s economy.
PTI said Chinese President Xi Jinping was expected to take Modi to his home province of Shaanxi to repay the hospitality he received in the Indian premier’s home state last September.