Wen voices hope for closer China-India ties

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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed his hope Thursday that his ongoing visit to India will strengthen bilateral cooperation and lift bilateral ties to a new height.

Wen voiced the hope when speaking to reporters prior to his formal meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I will have strategic communications with Prime Minister Singh and other Indian leaders, with an aim to further enhance our friendship, expand pragmatic cooperation and cultural exchanges, to push forward our bilateral ties up to a higher level in the new century," Wen said.

Singh gave Wen a red-carpet welcome at the pink sandstone presidential palace in New Delhi earlier Thursday. Later they will hold hour-long formal talks and witness the signing of a series of bilateral cooperation agreements.

"I am glad to pay an official visit to India, China's great neighbor. I have confidence in my current tour," Wen told reporters.

Hailing their profound traditional friendship, Wen said the two countries had set up a strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity in the new century, and face sound opportunities to further enhance cooperation as they celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year.

He also conveyed through the press greetings and best wishes from the Chinese people to their Indian friends.

The Chinese premier arrived in New Delhi Wednesday for a three-day official visit at the invitation of Singh. His visit marks the first to India by a Chinese premier in four years, and follows Indian President Pratibha Patil's visit to China in May -- the first by an Indian head of state in a decade.

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