China premier to visit India, Pakistan on first foreign trip

BEIJING (REUTERS) - New Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will visit India and Pakistan on a week-long overseas foray that will also take in Switzerland and Germany, his first foreign trip since assuming office.

Mr Li, who became prime minister in March, will meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari as well as other political leaders, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing, adding that Mr Li will make his trip from May 19-27.

China and India, despite both being founding members of the BRICS group of developing nations and having increasingly close economic relations, have long looked with suspicion at each other following a brief border war in 1962, which China won.

Both countries were involved in a renewed border standoff which calmed down this month after India agreed to a Chinese demand to demolish a remote army position, a topic discussed when India's foreign minister visited China last week.

"The appropriate resolution of this issue again shows that both sides ... are committed to friendly consultation to resolve such problems," Mr Hong said.

Visits to India by high-ranking Chinese officials are generally accompanied by corresponding visits to Pakistan.

China and Pakistan call each other "all-weather friends" and their close ties have for decades been underpinned by wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against US influence across the region.

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