External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit China later this week to participate in a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Swaraj is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on April 21 and is expected to meet her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on April 22. She is scheduled to take part in the SCO meeting on April 24, official sources in Beijing said.
This will be their first meeting after Wang was elevated last month as the State Councillor, which makes him the top diplomat in the Chinese hierarchy. He will hold the dual posts of the State Councillor and foreign minister.
After her China visit, Swaraj will travel to Mongolia.
Co-incidentally , Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are visiting China virtually around the same time. Sitharaman is due to take part in the SCO Defence Ministers meeting on April 24.
The SCO meetings are a prelude to the June summit of the eight-member grouping in which India and Pakistan have become new members.
The twin visits by Swaraj and Sitharaman are taking place as India and China stepped up high level exchanges to defuse tensions following last year’s Doklam stand-off.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take part in the SCO summit to be held in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June.
Foreign and defence ministers of Pakistan are also expected to attend the April 24 meetings. The SCO comprises China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
It may be recalled that on April 13, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met Yang Jiechi, Director of China’s Foreign Affairs Commission and member of the ruling Communist Party of China, in Shanghai during which the two sides held in-depth talks on improving the relations.
Both sides also held the 11th Joint Economic Group meeting and the fifth Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED). India and China also held working mechanism meeting on border affairs and cross-border rivers.
On April 16, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media in Beijing that bilateral ties have seen sound momentum and cooperation in all respects this year.