China announced Wednesday that Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze will visit Beijing next week, setting the stage for the first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Li Zhaoxing said Shevardnadze will be in Beijing for three days beginning Feb. 2, renewing talks with his Chinese counterpart on normalizing relations marred by three decades of hostility and mistrust.Qian Qichen held talks with Kremlin leaders in Moscow in December, the first Chinese foreign minister to do so in 32 years.
If next month's talks go well, the two foreign ministers may set a date for the first Sino-Soviet summit since Nikita Khrushchev met Mao Tse-tung in Beijing in 1959.
Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev has repeatedly expressed his eagerness to improve ties with China and is widely expected to travel to Beijing in April or May.
Gorbachev's meeting with 84-year-old senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping would formally normalize ties strained since the two countries split over ideological differences in 1960 and fought a short border war in 1969.
Li said Shevardnadze and Qian will "prepare for a summit meeting between top leaders of China and the Soviet Union. The two sides will also exchange opinions on other matters of common interest. Chinese leaders will meet with Shevardnadze."
He said the Qian-Shevardnadze talks will take up what China says is the main obstacle to better Sino-Soviet ties - the conflict in Cambodia.
China backs the anti-Vietnamese resistance in Cambodia; the Soviet Union backs Vietnam's 10-year occupation of the war-torn country.
Both powers agree that a withdrawal of Vietnamese troops is the key to a political settlement.
However, differences remain on the composition of a coalition government to be formed by the Hanoi-backed forces in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, and the three-party resistance including the Khmer Rouge.