The Chinese government has invited Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to China, setting the stage for the first Sino-Soviet summit in 30 years.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that Foreign Minister Qian Qichen proposed the visit in talks with his visiting Soviet counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, who "accepted the invitation and expressed his gratitude."Soviet Embassy spokesman Viatcheslav Duhin said Gorbachev's visit could come as early as April. Senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping will set the date when he meets with Shevardnadze on Saturday in Shanghai, Duhin said.
Shevardnadze left for Shanghai Friday after meeting for nearly two hours with Premier Li Peng. The Soviet embassy said only that the summit date and bilateral and international issues were discussed.
Gorbachev would be the first Soviet leader to visit China since Nikita Khrushchev met Mao Tse-tung in Beijing in 1959. A year later, relations between the countries deteriorated over ideological and strategic differences, and the Soviets halted technical and military aid to China.
Qian said during the talks that "China and the Soviet Union should establish a new type of state relationship with each other" based on principles of equality and peaceful coexistence, according to the Foreign Ministry.