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Indian PM's Visit to Boost Bilateral Relations
China announced Thursday that Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will pay an official visit from June 22 to June 27 in what will be the first trip to China by an Indian state leader in a decade.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a regular press briefing in Beijing yesterday: "China is very encouraged by the current Sino-Indian relationship."

Vajpayee has said he is pleased to see relations between India and China develop smoothly in recent years, according to Kong. The Indian leader's visit to China is expected to touch upon bilateral relations and regional issues of common concern.

On the long-standing border issues between the two countries, Vajpayee expressed his hope in St. Petersburg on May 31 that a solution could be found through peaceful negotiations acceptable to both sides.

China also indicated that the issues should be resolved in a spirit of equal cooperation and mutual understanding.

Turning to the situation in the Korean Peninsula, the spokesman said China hopes that the parties concerned will not complicate or intensify the situation regarding the nuclear issue in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Kong said China's stance on the issue was consistent: China supports the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and believes the peninsula should be non-nuclear.

Regarding the continued escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the spokesman said China was deeply concerned over the situation and condemned both suicide bombings and Israeli military retaliation.

China condemns all violence that targets civilians and also the sudden escalation of violence at a time when the Middle East peace process is facing new opportunities, Kong said.

The spokesman said China appeals to Palestine and Israel to refrain from taking any actions that would further worsen the situation in the Middle East.

Kong stressed that China maintains that the United Nations resolutions relating to the Middle East problem and the "land for peace" principle established the 1991 Madrid peace conference are the basis for peace talks in the Middle East.

At yesterday's briefing, the spokesman confirmed that the European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy would begin his China tour today. Chinese leaders, including Commerce Minister Lu Fuyuan, would hold talks with Lamy.

Kong also announced the Republic of Korea (ROK) President Roh Moo-hyun's upcoming visit to China.

According to Kong, China and the ROK are making preparations for the visit, which will take place "in the near future."

(Sources from China Daily and Xinhua News Agency, June 13, 2003)

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