NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China before his first anniversary in government on May 26, the foreign ministry said on Monday, in the latest symbolic move by the nationalist leader to cement India’s ties with the world’s major powers.
The announcement came a week after Modi received U.S. President Barack Obama in New Delhi, promising closer cooperation to maintain free navigation in the South China Sea, deeper defense ties including work on aircraft carrier technology and more civil nuclear collaboration.
China had agreed that the visit would be before the end of May, India’s foreign ministry spokesman said, but the final date has yet to be set.
“We want the visit to happen in the first year of the government,” spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
While Modi is keen to work more closely with Washington than his predecessors, he also wants to build strong relations with other powers including China, with whom India shares $66 billion in annual trade but has a long-running border dispute and fought a brief war in 1962.
Modi’s travels since assuming office have included trips to Japan, the United States, Brazil and Australia.
During a trip to Beijing at the weekend, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj promised “out of the box” ideas to jump-start talks about the disputed territory in the east and west of the Himalayas, according to media reports. Discussions have made little progress in 17 rounds since 2003.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India in September and promised some $30 billion of investment, but the trip was overshadowed by a standoff between Chinese and India troops on the remote Himalayan plateau of Ladakh.
Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani