Moscow, Oct 21 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will do something later this week he rarely does on foreign jaunts - go sightseeing. And that too at the insistence of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.
During his Beijing visit, that will take place after his present visit to Russia, he will go to see China's famed Forbidden City built by the Ming dynasty in the 15th century.
The 82-year-old workaholic prime minister, not known to give much time to leisure activities and whose foreign itineraries are usually packed with serious business - one-on-one talks, delegation level discussions, overseeing the inking of numerous agreements, forging ties and talking strategic issues with the heads of government and state when he goes visiting.
On Oct 23, after a very busy morning and afternoon, he will go to visit the Forbidden City. In the morning he holds restricted talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, then delegation level talks, both oversee the inking of a slew of agreements and issue joint press statements, after which there is a meeting of the India-China CEOs Forum and then he attends a lunch banquet hosted by Premier Li.
He also has a meeting with Zhang Dejiang, the chairperson of the National People's Congress, after 3 p.m. He goes to the Forbidden City after 4 p.m. and is to spend around 40 mins there.
And Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not go alone. Accompanying him will be Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Apparently, the sightseeing tour to one of China's top tourist attractions has been at the initiative of the Chinese premier.
The request is believed to have come from Premier Li and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gladly accommodated.
The Forbidden City is located in the centre of Beijing and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of Chinese emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political centre of the Chinese imperial dynasties.
Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and it takes a few hours to traverse. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at email@example.com)
--Indo-Asian News service