Sun, Oct 13, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Xi, Modi discuss ways to improve ties

‘CANDID DISCUSSIONS’:China and India are expected to move forward on measures to build confidence on their border, including trade, tourism and joint border patrols

Reuters, MAMALLAPURAM, India

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) yesterday said that he had a free and frank discussion with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and would pursue proposals the two leaders discussed to improve bilateral ties.

Xi and Modi held several hours of one-on-one talks in a southern seaside Indian town in their second annual summit designed to break through decades of distrust between their countries over border disputes, a ballooning trade deficit and China’s close military ties with India’s archrival, Pakistan.

“Yesterday and today we have engaged in candid discussions and as friends,” Xi said in opening remarks as the two leaders sat down for formal talks with their delegations.

“I look forward to further discussions, I may follow up on proposals discussed yesterday,” he said, without elaborating.

Ties were ruffled when India in August revoked the special status of the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, angering both Pakistan, which claims the region, and its all-weather ally China.

Modi said in his opening remarks that he and Xi had agreed to manage their differences prudently and not let them snowball into disputes.

The neighbors are expected to move forward on a set of confidence-building measures along their border, including border trade, tourism and even joint military patrols to boost trust, officials said.

India and China share a 3,500km border, over which they went to war in 1962. Its course remains unresolved, despite more than 20 rounds of talks.

Modi took Xi on a personal tour of temple monuments dating back to the seventh and eighth century at Mamallapuram in southern India when regional leaders had trade ties with Chinese provinces.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the two leaders spent nearly five hours discussing bilateral issues that have often been fraught.

The two leaders discussed economic issues, including India’s US$53 billion trade deficit with China in 2018-2019, and ways to tackle it, Gokhale said.

China, for its part, was expected to urge India to take an independent decision on telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies’ bid for India’s proposed 5G network and not be swayed by US pressure.

The US has asked its allies not to use Huawei equipment, which it has said China could exploit for spying.

Sources told reporters in August that China had warned of “reverse sanctions” on Indian firms engaged in business in China should India block Huawei because of US pressure.

Xi was later yesterday to head to Nepal, where he is expected to push for China’s further involvement in developing the country’s infrastructure as part of his signature One Belt On Road initiative to boost trade and transport links across Asia.

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