HANOI (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday the world was big enough for their two countries to develop and cooperate, sounding a positive note ahead of a visit planned for later this year.
The world’s most populous countries have engaged in repeated diplomatic sparring over the last two years, reflecting growing friction over their disputed borders and roles as emerging global powers despite bilateral trade that has grown 30-fold since 2000.
“There is enough space in the world for India and China to achieve common development ... to have cooperation,” Wen said at the beginning of a meeting with Singh on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Hanoi.
“We must strive to ensure the sound and steady growth of our relationship,” he said.
Wen said his “preliminary consideration” was that he would visit India later this year.
“To make the visit a productive one, we will discuss and reach consensus on some major aspects to lay a foundation for the visit.”
That visit, which Indian media said would take place in December, would follow a visit to India by U.S. President Barack Obama in early November on a trip that will also take Obama to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.
Some commentators have portrayed the tour as a White House effort to counterbalance China’s influence in Asia, which has worried Indian officials. But Obama’s aides said the administration’s strategy is to develop both relationships.
China defeated India in a 1962 war, but they still spar over their disputed 3,500 km (2,170 mile) border and the presence of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in India.
China’s support for India’s arch-enemy Pakistan, which backs separatists in disputed Kashmir and also claims the Himalayan region in full, has added to the suspicion.
Reporting by James Pomfret; Writing by John Ruwitch; Editing by Robert Birsel and Miral Fahmy