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Friday, May 26, 2000, updated at 16:38(GMT+8)

India-China Friendship a Historical Necessity: Indian President

Friendship and cooperation between India and China is a "historical necessity," not only for the two countries, but also for the world, Indian President K.R. Narayanan said on the eve of his six-day state visit to China, which is scheduled to begin on May 28.

"I'm very much looking forward to the visit to China with a degree of excitement. What I expect from this visit is to increase the goodwill and friendship between the two countries and to create a greater mutual understanding," said Narayanan in an interview with Chinese journalists based in Delhi.

As China and India marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations on April 1 this year, the Indian president described the current relationship between the two countries as "satisfactory."

"There is peace on the border; we have signed agreements with China + peace and tranquillity agreement on border and agreement on Confidence Building Measures. We have also been engaged in talks with China at various levels. The Joint Working Group and Expert Group have been very patiently and persistently discussing our problems between each other," said Narayanan.

Though there remain some differences between India and China, both countries have been discussing and will continue to discuss " in the spirit of friendship," he noted.

"As (Chinese) President Jiang Zemin said while he was here, we should develop our relationship, orient it towards a constructive and cooperative relationship in the 21st century. This is the same approach I am taking during this visit," he said. President Jiang paid a state visit to India in 1996.

The Indian president said that he envisaged "very good prospects" for India and China to work together and cooperate together in bilateral fields as well as in international fields.

At the present moment, developing countries as a whole are in a weaker position in relation to the developed countries. As the two largest developing countries in the world, India and China "have a duty" to cooperate with each other, to make the developing world strong and their voice heard in the world, the president said, adding that "there is also a necessity from the point of view of the world balance for India and China to cooperate together."

"I believe that India-China friendship is a historical necessity today for our peoples as well as for the world. If we can work together with mutual confidence in each other and with hope for the future, it should be possible for us, for our two countries to influence the world and contribute to the shaping of a better, more equal and just world," he asserted.

The president went on to say that the prospects for India and China to cooperate on the economic front are also "very bright."

"Both our countries are opening up and liberalizing our economies, and are developing rapidly," he noted. "In this environment, we can cooperate with each other in various fields."

Although the Sino-Indian bilateral trade has increased seven- fold since 1990 to reach nearly 2 billion US dollars presently, it is far below the two countries' potential, said Narayanan.

"We have to put our heads together to find practical ways of increasing substantially trade and economic and technological cooperation between our two countries," he urged.

A veteran diplomat and statesman, Narayanan was the Indian ambassador to China in the 1970s. In 1990 and 1994, he visited China twice as a member of an Indian parliamentary delegation and the vice president of India, and called on Chinese President Jiang on both occasions.

The president told the Chinese journalists that the deepest impression he had during his stay in China was the "sincere and friendly" attitude of the Chinese people towards him personally and towards the people of India.

"The other great impression left on me is the capacity of the Chinese people to work diligently and with determination in order to lift the millions of their people to a better life and make China a great country in the world," he added.

The president said that he would like to send his warm greetings to the Chinese people on the eve of his departure, and wished the Chinese people "all prosperity, happiness and success" in the 21st century.

"I am looking forward to meeting them personally, to understand the great changes that have taken place there since my last visit and forge further bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two countries," he concluded.

In This Section

Friendship and cooperation between India and China is a "historical necessity," not only for the two countries, but also for the world, Indian President K.R. Narayanan said on the eve of his six-day state visit to China, which is scheduled to begin on May 28.

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