BEIJING: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China in May this year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today ahead of her meeting with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
"Modiji is going to come in May. I will give them dates today. This is a preparatory visit," she told the Indian media after she addressed the Indian Community here.
She said her maiden visit to China also focussed on opening the additional route for the Kailash Manasorvar Yatra for which preparations are on.
"It is a big thing," she said.
The route is expected to provide more comfortable journey experience to pilgrims with a facility to travel to Kailash-Manasarovar directly by buses.
Modi's visit to China is a reciprocal one by President Xi Jinping to India in September last year.
The visit is expected to put at rest concerns in China arising out US President Barack Obama's second visit that some analysts here say is aimed at scuttling burgeoning India-China ties.
Speculation is rife that Modi will be visiting Kailash through the new route when he arrives on his maiden visit to China as the Prime Minister.
Xi is expected to take him to Xian, capital of his home province Shaanxi, to recreate the bonhomie generated by Modi who had taken the Chinese President to Ahemadabad, the capital of his home state Gujarat.
Earlier addressing the Indian community of Beijing at the Indian Embassy here today, Swaraj appealed to the overseas Indian community to join various campaigns like 'Clean India', 'Clean Ganga' and 'Beti Bachao Beti Padao' initiated by Modi to help India progress.
Swaraj will meet her counterpart Wnag today and call on President Xi tomorrow. Swaraj said that "a critical nature" of the bilateral ties are the growing economic ties.
"China today is our largest partner in trade and goods. The two countries are moving to invest in each other. Serious discussions enhancing connectivity has been initiated. On that foundation we are now seeking to take our economic cooperation to a qualitatively new level," she added.
"We will make it easier for Chinese companies to do business in India and expect that similar encouragement would be given to our companies to expand their business in China," Swaraj said.
She also pointed out that another major thrust is in establishing industrial parks in two Indian states that would contribute to the 'Make in India' initiative. She said China has agreed to invest USD 20 billion in the parks.
Stating that the relations have grown beyond bilateral ties, Swaraj said the two countries now are parts of multilateral bodies like BRICS and BASIC.
She said she will be attending the Russia, India, China Foreign Ministers meet tomorrow.
Swaraj said more importantly the relationship with key neighbours requires strong and broad based support from people of both the countries.
"It is only logical that therefore we have invested our energies in strengthening people to people contacts. During this visit I expect to that area to be forward in many ways", she said.
Stating that she will be launching '2015: Visit India Year in China, Swaraj said, "Tourism is an effective vehicle to promote people-to-people understanding and the two countries agreed that we need to make stronger efforts in that regard".
She said the cultural exchange initiative agreed during President Xi's visit is currently under way.
The 2nd India-China Media Forum is being attended by a number of journalists from the two countries.
Swaraj said the "close developmental partnership" agreed during last September visit of President Xi to India "symbolises that determination".
Eluding to civilisational links between the two countries and the far reaching influence of Buddhism, Swaraj said, "Our ancient scholars of two civilisations have played their critical role in building of these ties".