China, India, Russia FMs to meet in Beijing

Updated: 2015-01-29 08:15


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The foreign ministers of China, India and Russia will meet in Beijing next week, in the wake of US President Barack Obama's visit to India.

The 13th trilateral meeting scheduled for Feb 2 will coincide with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's first visit to China since she took office, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chun-ying said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Swaraj's visit, scheduled for Jan 31 to Feb 3, will also be the first visit by a Cabinet minister of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government to Beijing after India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May.

Western media reported at length about the upturn of India-US ties and the "shadow" of China looming over Obama's high-profile visit, which concluded on Tuesday.

Washington views India as a potential counterweight in Asia to China. In a veiled reference to China, the two leaders reiterated the "importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea".

Fu Xiaoqiang, an expert on South Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the coming three-way meeting would focus on exchanging views on regional security and common interests.

The three countries currently cooperate on a range of issues, including industry, trade, agriculture, emergency relief and healthcare, and are also members of various key organizations such as BRICS-a group of five emerging national economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa-and the G-20 forum of major economies.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation got the ball rolling last year to make India a member of the security group that also includes China and Russia.

India subscribes to a balanced foreign policy, without swinging totally to the policies of any major country, Fu said. But China and India can still find areas in which to cooperate further, such as infrastructure and trade, Fu said.

China is India's top trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $65.5 billion in 2013. The Modi administration is keen to attract foreign direct investment from China to upgrade India's infrastructure.

Hua, of the Foreign Ministry, hailed the development and importance of the Sino-Indian relationship at the news conference, saying both countries have deepened political trust, reaped the benefits of cooperation in various sectors and coordinated in global and regional affairs.

China would like to work with India to maintain the momentum to build a closer partnership and realize peaceful common development, she said.

Besides meeting with Chinese leaders and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Swaraj will kick off the second China-India Media Forum and attend the launch of the Visit India Year during her stay in China.

President Xi Jinping, speaking during his visit to India last year, designated this year as Visit India Year in China, and 2016 as Visit China Year in India.