A little over 27 years after his first Indian sojourn, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang landed in New Delhi on a hot Sunday afternoon, to be met by his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, who firmly stated that lingering border tensions could have a negative impact on bilateral ties.
Li, who took over office after a leadership transition in March, arrived here on a special flight at about 3 pm and was greeted by Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and senior Indian diplomats.
In the evening, he arrived at the PM’s 7 Race Course Road residence, accompanied by a restricted number of officials at about 7.30 pm. According to sources, Singh in a “constructive but firm manner” raised the issue of recent border incursion, during which Chinese soldiers pitched tents, 19 kilometres into Indian territory after crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Singh told the Chinese premier that it was important to have peace and tranquility at the border, which could otherwise dampen the burgeoning ties between the two Asian giants, sources added. “The atmosphere was cordial and candid, but we firmly raised our priority issues,” they said.
After the stand-off at the western sector ended on May 5, China had indicated that it wanted quicker momentum on the border talks, while India had insisted that it would revive the demand for clarification and confirmation of Line of Actual Control. After Singh articulated the border concerns, the Chinese leader raised their long-standing bugbear of the role of Dalai Lama and activities of Tibetan freedom activists on Indian soil. The standard Indian reply has always been that Dalai Lama is a religious leader and a guest in India.