India's External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, on June 6, held wide-ranging talks with China's Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is expected to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao later this year, and focused on taking 'a peep into the future' of this critical bilateral relationship.
Krishna and Li met in the Great Hall of the People on the sidelines of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
"The primary focus of our discussions was the future of our bilateral relationship. India attaches utmost importance and high priority to developing a co-operative partnership with China," Krishna told Indian journalists in the Chinese capital after the talks.
"We have a strong relationship with this country. It is the desire of the government of India and the people of India to strengthen this relationship and make bonds stronger," he said.
Describing Li as one of the most important people in China in deciding the country's economic destiny, Krishna said that the Chinese Vice Premier shared his vision of the India-China relationship and the future of the relationship over the next decade.
"It was a peep into the future," said Krishna.
Krishna also invited Li to India, who last came to New Delhi in 1985 as a youth Communist activist.
"I am confident that the upward trajectory in the India-China relationship will continue over the next decade," said Krishna.
"It is an opportunity to enhance co-operation under the SCO, but also bilaterally," Li said.
The meeting between Krishna and Li marks a series of engagements for India to get an insight into the thinking of the next generation of Chinese leadership, which will take charge after a leadership succession later this year. Indian President Pratibha Patil met Xi in China in 2010.
Li is expected to carry forward the upswing in bilateral ties witnessed during the tenure of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen.
In January 2013, Hu will make way for Xi Jinping, China's current Vice President, and Li will succeed Wen.
In his discussions, Krishna described the growing bilateral trade and investment as a key driver of the relationship, and made a pitch for attracting more Chinese investment in India's burgeoning infrastructure sector.
Alluding to India's burgeoning infrastructure sector, which will require at least a trillion dollars in investments, Krishna said he conveyed that India was 'creating a level playing field and observing transparency in international bidding'.
"The whole process is open and fair, and beneficial for Chinese companies," he stressed.
However, he voiced concern over the growing trade deficit with China.
Bilateral trade is now estimated to be USD74 billion, and India's trade deficit is calculated to be USD27 billion. Li assured that the Chinese government was encouraging Chinese investment in India, specially in the infrastructure sector.
Krishna's talk with Li was more in the nature of a big-picture assessment of the bilateral relationship, but more specific issues impinging ties will be discussed on June 7, when he meets his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.