On Tuesday, India and China agreed to double trade to $40 billion by 2010, and to boost ties marked by suspicions dating to a 1962 border war and rivalry over their regional roles.

Hu said the growing economic ties between India and China augured well for the two countries, whose combined population of nearly 2.4 billion accounts for a third of the world.

"Our development endeavours are not mutually exclusive," Hu  said. "Our economies are complementary, we can form synergy ... to  improve international competitiveness."

Leading world players

Hu added that the two nations were ready to take their place as leading players on the global stage.

"We should work for multi-polarity in the world and democracy in international relations," he said.

But some Indian papers said that the protocol of Hu's arrival showed that the political relationship between the two sides remained "businesslike".

The Hindustan Times noted that Singh had gone to the airport to greet the leaders of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Nepal, Pranab Mukherjee, the foreign minister, welcomed Hu.

The two countries have resolved to intensify efforts to resolve the disputes that remain from the 1962 Sino-Indian war over their 3,500-km border.

"We welcome and support improvement of relations between India and Pakistan. China doesn't seek any selfish gains in South Asia"

Hu Jintao,
Chinese president

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New Delhi disputes Beijing's rule over 38,000 sq km of barren, icy and uninhabited land on the Tibetan plateau, which China seized from India in the 1962 war.

China claims 90,000 sq km of territory ruled by India in the eastern part of the border, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh state.

The two sides also agreed to increase civilian nuclear co-operation, but made no firm commitments on the mechanics of the arrangement.

The deal appeared to be more of a statement of intent than an actual nuclear pact, such as the one New Delhi has reached with Washington, which has complicated the India-China relationship.

Pakistan factor

Sino-India ties have also been dogged by Beijing's strategic alliance with Pakistan to which it supplied arms and missile technology.

But Hu his country would not take sides between the South Asian rivals who resumed peace talks last week after India suspended them in the wake of the July Mumbai train bombings, which it blamed on Pakistani-backed fighters.

"We welcome and support improvement of relations between India and Pakistan. China doesn't seek any selfish gains in South Asia," Hu said.

While stopping short of an offer to mediate, Hu said his country "stands ready to play a constructive role in promoting peace and development in the subcontinent".

Hu leaves India on Thursday for Pakistan, where he plans to sign agreements on trade, culture and education.