Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday conveyed India’s desire to maintain peace at the border, while the two neighbours work at attempting to find a solution to their border dispute.
At the meeting in Brazil, which was to have lasted about 40 minutes but stretched to 80, the Chinese President invited PM Modi to Beijing for a summit of Asia and Pacific (APEC) leaders in November.
Mr. Modi posted a picture of the meeting and tweeted, “Had a very fruitful meeting with Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping. We discussed a wide range of issues.”
During his campaign for the general elections this year, Mr. Modi had taken a strident position on incursions by the Chinese army into Indian Territory and had warned China against its “expansionist designs”.
But in the Brazilian town of Fortaleza, ahead of the sixth BRICS summit, Mr. Modi engaged diplomatic levers to convey his message. This is the new PM’s first foreign visit with multilateral engagements. BRICS or Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa is a group of emerging economies.
Over the last five decades, New Delhi has accused China of occupying 38,000 sq km of Indian Territory, while Beijing lays claim to 90,000 sq km of land in Arunachal Pradesh. Last year, tension escalated when India alleged that Chinese troops had crossed over into the Ladakh region.
Government spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, when asked for details on the Modi-Xi discussions, said, “the government’s attempt was to work at avoiding anything that undermines the trajectories of a relationship.”
The two leaders decided to work to improve ties and build an atmosphere of mutual growth. China is India’s largest trading partner and their combined trade volume was 49.5 billion dollars in April-Dec last year.
Prime Minister Modi reportedly emphasised that boosting economics and better relations between the two countries will remain his top priority.
Sources said the two leaders had prepared for their first meeting and began the dialogue by talking about the other’s career – Mr. Modi brought up Mr. Xi’s experiences and speeches and the Chinese president is said to have talked about Mr Modi’s term as the chief minister of Gujarat.
The meeting, scheduled to last about 40 minutes, stretched to over 80 minutes as the two leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. The Chinese president crowned the meeting by observing that when China and India meet, the world watches.
Mr. Modi has invited Mr. Xi to India and the Chinese President has accepted the invitation. The two sides will work out modalities of the visit. India will also get back on Mr. Xi’s invitation for the APEC summit after checking the PM’s engagements then.