BEIJING, May 27 (IANS) - Indian President Pratibha Patil was today extended a warm welcome here by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who called her visit one of "great significance" at a time when India and China are "celebrating 60 years of diplomatic ties".
"We extend a warm welcome to you," Wen told Patil before the two leaders met at Zhongnangai pavilion in a complex that houses the offices and residences of the Chinese President and Premier.
"It is an expression of great significance," the Chinese Premier said hailing Patil's visit to the country - the first by a Indian head of state in 10 years.
Wen noted that the visit comes as India and China are "celebrating 60 years of diplomatic ties".
Patil who arrived here Wednesday for a six-day visit returned the compliment and said her visit was an effort to improve "friendly relations and discuss issues of mutual interest".
"I am pleased to meet you and visit your country. India remembers the constructive and important role you played in building strategic and cooperative partnership," she said even as diplomatic ties have been scarred by distrust, perceptional differences and border tensions.
Patil will also meet her Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao later Thursday. The two will discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues to invigorate relations between the two countries after a period of strain caused by border tensions.
She will also meet National People's Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo.
During her visit May 26-31, Patil will dedicate to the Chinese people an Indian-style Buddhist temple in Luoyang in Henan province that was inspired by the Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh.
The Indian style temple is adjacent to the White Horse Temple (Baima Si) built in first century AD in honour of two Indian monks who travelled on horseback, carrying with them religious texts and an image of the Buddha. Patil is also scheduled to visit the White Horse Temple.