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Pranab hands over quake relief goods to Chinese authorities

By Raghavendra in Chengdu
June 07, 2008 17:02 IST
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In a special gesture, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday flew to the capital of the quake-shattered Sichuan province of China and handed over a consignment of relief supplies to the local administration.

Mukherjee then left for New Delhi, wrapping up his four-day visit to China.

The minister handed over to Sichuan Province Vice Governor Huang Xiaoxiang the supplies brought by an Indian Air Force aircraft to Chengdu as part of the $5 million aid announced by India.

Huang said the provincial government and the people were grateful to India for offering help during difficult times, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

India's Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao was also present during the ceremony.

Relief supplies, including tents, ready-to-eat meal packets and medicines, were dispatched through several IAF flights earlier following the deadliest earthquake in three decades to hit China. The official death toll is about 69,000.

During the visit, the first by Mukherjee since he became the external affairs minister, India and China decided to build on the positive momentum in their relationship, vowing to strengthen their strategic ties while keeping the border peaceful and exploring ways to address the "difficult" bilateral issues.

At the talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Thursday, Mukherjee had raised the issue of Sikkim in the light of China's latest claim over the state's "finger area".

India's position is that there is "zero dispute" on Sikkim as it has already been settled.

Yang on Friday described his talks with Mukherjee as "excellent" and said the bilateral relationship was moving in the "right direction".

Sharing his perception, Mukherjee also said he was satisfied with his visit, the first high-level bilateral contact since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited China in January.

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Raghavendra in Chengdu
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