External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to China on a four-day visit tomorrow during which she will hold talks on “issues of concern” with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and attend Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting.
Mrs Swaraj will be accompanied by new Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar among other senior ministry officials. It will be Mr Jaishankar’s first foreign trip after being appointed two days back, replacing Sujatha Singh whose tenure was abruptly “curtailed”.
Mr Jaishankar has served as India’s Ambassador to China for nearly four years before being appointed as Ambassador to US in 2013.
During her trip, which comes within a week of US President Barack Obama’s three-day visit here, Mrs Swaraj will “discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of concern to both sides” with her Chinese counterpart, Ministry of External Affairs has said.
The two sides will also explore the possibility of a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this year. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Wang had visited India last year immediately after the installation of the Modi Government.
Noting that both sides attach “great importance” to Mrs Swaraj’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had said in Beijing that bilateral ties between the two largest developing countries and major emerging economies were progressing in a “sound and stable way”.
“Our cooperation has made some headway. We are enhancing mutual political trust and practical cooperation in various fields. We are in sound coordination and cooperation in regional and international issues,” she said.
The External Affairs Minister will also attend the RIC meeting with her Chinese and Russian counterparts. The meeting was earlier scheduled to take place in August but Mrs Swaraj cancelled her travel which was to take place just ahead of Mr Modi’s visit to Japan.
The visit by Mrs Swaraj comes in the backdrop of China describing Mr Obama’s visit here as “superficial rapprochement” while talking about differences between India and the US on various issues.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency in a commentary, said, “The shortened three-day visit is more symbolic than pragmatic, given the long-standing division between the two giants, which may be as huge as the distance between them.”