PM: India wants best of relations with China

Bali (Indonesia): Weeks after war of words between India and China over the exploitation of South China Sea resources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao met here today and agreed on the need for working together as there was "enough space" and areas for them to work together for mutual benefit.

Singh told Wen that India was committed to developing the "best of relations" with China while the latter underlined that the two countries should work "hand-in-hand" to ensure that the 21st century belongs to Asia.

"We are neighbours and also large growing economies of Asia. We should cooperate bilaterally and globally," Singh told Wen as they met here on the sidelines of the ASEAN and East Asia Summits.

To press this point, Singh noted that whenever India and China had worked together on climate change, it has had a "positive impact" on the global stage.

Visualising "cooperative partnership" with China, Singh reminded Wen that he had said that "there is enough space in the world for both India and China to grow."

Adding on this point, Wen said, "there are enough areas in our world where India and China can enhance cooperation."

Recalling Wen`s visit to India in December last year, Singh said it was a "milestone" in the bilateral relations during which the two sides discussed "new ideas and new approaches" to the relationship.

Referring to the oft-repeated contention that the 21st century should belong to Asia, the Chinese Premier said that for realisation of this goal, it is important for the two most populous countries of the world to "work hand-in-hand to forge ahead along the path of development. I have full confidence that the day of that kind of the world will arrive".

Singh, while noting that the two leaders had been meeting on the sidelines of all the ASEAN Summits held during the last six years, told Wen that he had "benefitted enormously" from his conversations with the Chinese leader on each occasion.

Earlier, expressing great pleasure in meeting Singh again, Wen said their decision to meet here to exchange views on major issues of mutual interest "shows how much importance leaders of both India and China attach to friendly relations and cooperation".

The meeting comes against the backdrop of war of words between India and China over resources of South China Sea.

China, which lays claim over entire South China Sea, had openly attacked India in September over its move to explore oil in the maritime area on offer from Vietnam. It had evoked a sharp retort from India.

This was coupled with an incident in which an Indian Naval ship INS Airavat was threatened by the Chinese Navy while moving in that area.

The Indian government asserts that since it was not clearly defined that the maritime area belongs wholly to China, the laws of the sea will apply.