By Ranjana Narayan
Phnom Penh: Meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Monday, outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao remarked that it was their 14th meeting in eight years. He added that it would also be, most likely, the last time the two met officially.
Wen’s remarks came in the wake of the leadership change in China effected last week.
During their 45-minute bilateral talks at Peace Palace in the Cambodian capital Monday, Wen said he was “very happy they had been able to develop an equation and a system of working together”, said Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, briefing newspersons.
Paying a compliment to the Indian prime minister, Wen said “it was a memorable experience to work with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh”, Mathai said.
Wen also said that the new leadership in China would give “great importance to relations with India and it is recognised that it is important for us to work together”.
The two leaders held “very fruitful and detailed talks”, during which trade figured in a major way, the foreign secretary said.
The overall perspective on the talks was that “there is enough space for both China and India to develop” and build on new areas of cooperation.
On the boundary question, Wen said an active dialogue between special representatives continues, and though differences remain, the two sides have set in place a joint mechanism to ensure peace and tranquillity on the border.
India’s National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon would be meeting China’s special representative Dai Bingguo in Beijing later this month to take forward boundary talks between the two nations, the 16th such talks, of which the last were held in New Delhi in January.
“Trade has seen a rapid build-up, and also people-to-people contacts, and these important achievements have given a fillip to their bilateral ties and added to global peace and prosperity, Mathai said.
Manmohan Singh endorsed the views of Wen and noted that their foreign ministers had met four times in the past one year and that India had received the Chinese commerce minister in August and the defence minister in September.
Manmohan Singh said their “dialogue architecture” had taken into its ambit new areas, with dialogues on foreign affairs – on central Asia and West Asia – and engaging on a dialogue on maritime security.
Trade was emphasised by Manmohan Singh.
The two countries are holding a strategic economic dialogue at the end of November in New Delhi.
The Indian side will be led by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.
Wen said a large Chinese economic delegation, with economic experts, would be coming to India for the strategic economic dialogue in New Delhi.