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India sends foreign minister to China after Obama visit

NEW DELHI: India’s foreign minister will travel to China this weekend, New Delhi said on Wednesday, a day after Barack Obama ended a visit aimed at renewing US ties with the South Asian country.

Sushma Swaraj will hold three-way talks with her Chinese and Russian counterparts during the trip, her first official visit since she took office last year, the Indian foreign ministry said.

The talks follow a high-profile visit to New Delhi by the US president aimed at cementing ties between the two countries, which share an interest in curbing China’s growing regional influence.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said they were aimed at enhancing “political trust”.

“China and India are two largest developing countries and major emerging economies,” she said.

“We are enhancing our mutual political trust and practical cooperation in various fields.”

Although neither side mentioned China by name during Obama’s three-day visit, the US president welcomed what he called a “greater role for India in the Asia Pacific” and said freedom of navigation in the region must be upheld.

Beijing claims sovereignty over large swathes of the South China Sea, home to maritime lanes that are vital to global trade.

India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is widely seen as taking a more assertive line on China than the previous government.

But experts say he will be careful not to alienate China, whose investment he desperately needs as he tries to boost India’s economy.

Obama and Modi took pains to demonstrate their personal rapport during the US president’s visit.

China’s state news agency Xinhua said it was a “superficial rapprochement”, pointing to persistent differences on issues such as climate change. -AFP

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