Border Row and Bilateral Issues: Xi, Modi agree to reduce tensions | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 29, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:16 AM, April 29, 2018

Border Row and Bilateral Issues: Xi, Modi agree to reduce tensions

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended informal meetings yesterday with a promise to reduce border tensions after a high-altitude standoff in the Himalayas last year.

The leaders have spent two days in the central Chinese city of Wuhan for discussions on how to mend ties strained when troops from both sides came eyeball-to-eyeball in the disputed Doklam area.

The leaders "underscored the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility in all areas of the India-China border region", Indian's foreign ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

"They issued strategic guidance to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual understanding and enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs," it said, adding the two sides will "earnestly implement various confidence building measures".

"The two leaders were of the view that the two countries have the maturity and wisdom to handle all our differences through peaceful discussions within the context of the overall relationships and bearing in mind, we would respect each other's sensitivities, concerns and aspirations," foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told mediapersons at a press briefing on the sidelines of the two-day informal summit.

No agreements were inked, nor any announcements made at the summit, since the focus of the two leaders was to take stock of and further strengthen bilateral relationships as well as the strategic and long term partnership between India and China.

PM Modi and Xi also recognised the common threat posed by terrorism and both reiterated their resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Both committed to cooperate further in counter-terrorism, the foreign secretary said.

In a move that could upset Pakistan, the leaders agreed to undertake a joint India-China economic project in Afghanistan, reported PTI.

As per the understanding, officials of both sides will identify the project in following up discussions and work out modalities.

This will be a first such project in the war-torn country where China while trying to expand its influence has tacitly backed Pakistan, which has been accused by Afghanistan and the US of backing the Taliban and its most violent attacks in the country destabilising any attempts to restore peace.

New Delhi and Beijing would also continue to pursue informal talks, said Gokhale.

In a statement on its website, China's foreign ministry said that Xi had told Modi that "a friendly Sino-Indian relationship is a significant, positive factor in safeguarding world stability," adding that "China and India should be good neighbours and good friends".

It did not, however, mention the border dispute.

Beijing "persists in promoting the construction of a new type of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation".

New Delhi has also raised concerns about Beijing's Belt and Road initiative, a global trade infrastructure programme that includes a major project through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, disputed territory that New Delhi claims is illegally occupied.

The issue was not, however, mentioned in either the Indian or Chinese statements.

Instead, the Indian side emphasised that the two leaders had agreed to cooperate on a wide range of issues from economic development to counter-terrorism.

Both nations have previously said they are committed to solving long-standing border disagreements through dialogue, but progress has been glacial.

Prior to the press conference, Modi and Xi resumed their "heart-to-heart" talks on the second and concluding day of the summit aimed at forging consensus to improve bilateral ties and address the contentious issues plaguing India-China relations.

Modi and Xi began the day with a walk along the East Lake, followed by a boat ride during which the two leaders were immersed deep in conversation. Modi left for India after the talks

India and China went to war in 1962 over Arunachal Pradesh, with Chinese troops temporarily capturing part of the Himalayan territory.

The dispute remains unresolved: India considers Arunachal Pradesh one of its northeastern states, while China stakes claim to about 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 square miles) of the area.

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