New Delhi: With China expressing interest, there is a likelihood of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Bangkok this month, official sources said on Friday.
India and China are perceived to have had a strained few weeks, with the governments issuing statements and demarches to each other on points of contention, mainly on disputed territory.
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, who led India's delegation to the heads of government meeting of the Shangai Cooperation Organisation in Beijing earlier this week, said that he was informed by Premier Wen Jiabao about his interest in meeting with Manmohan Singh.
BUILDING RELATIONS: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to meet Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao in the sidelines of ASEAN meet.
"He asked if the prime minister will be going to Thailand next week, to which I replied yes. Twice he said he is looking forward to meeting Manmohan Singh," Deora told reporters here on Friday.
Singh will be travelling to Thailand to attend the ASEAN summit on October 24.
Official sources said there was a good possibility of a meeting between Singh and Wen taking place on the sidelines of the summit, as has happened at various other multilateral fora.
It would mark an intensification of contacts in the coming weeks, with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi arriving in India this month to participate in a trilateral meeting with his Indian and Russian counterparts. The Chinese minister will arrive October 26 for the meeting to be held the next day, said an official spokesperson.
The trilateral meeting is to discuss issues of regional importance and "touch upon various issues of mutual concern and mutual interest in the bilateral relationship", Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said in an interview to All India Radio.
In November, Zhou Yongkang, a senior member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, will be visiting India, China's envoy Zhang Yan told the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh on Friday.
The BJP quoted the ambassador as telling Rajnath Singh that this would be "the most important visit of any Chinese leader after President Hu Jintao (who came) to India in 2006".
Zhang called on the BJP president days after the main opposition party urged the Indian government to take a hardline stand vis-a-vis Beijing in the wake of tensions between the two countries.