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Modi’s visit expected to ease India-China tensions

India-China
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China this week for an informal meeting with President Xi Jinping, as efforts at rapprochement gather pace following a testing year in ties between the two giant neighbors. The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, said the two would meet on Friday and Saturday in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold a summit in China’s Wuhan city from April 27 to 28 for a “heart-to-heart” chat to explore a new paradigm for India-China ties and find ways to address the contentious issues like the border dispute. Prime Minister Modi will be visiting the central Chinese city at the invitation of President Xi, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a joint media event with visiting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after their talks.

In March, India issued an unprecedented ban on Tibetans holding a rally with the Dalai Lama in New Delhi to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Conceived on the lines of the ice-breaking visit undertaken by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 and his far-reaching talks with China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, setting a new tone for the relations after the 1962 war. The Xi-Modi dialogue in the central Chinese city of Wuhan is aimed at working out a new paradigm for the bilateral relations for the next 15 years.

At the summit, Modi and Xi will try to work out a general framework for relations to move ahead without much of great expectations about the outcome, they said. It is a leadership-driven summit, providing a leadership driven-direction and a way forward to more stable bilateral ties, the sources said.

Read more: Why does India fear China’s improving ties with the Maldives?

“Our common interests far outweigh our differences. The two countries have no choice other than pursuing everlasting friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development,” Mr. Wang told reporters after meeting Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in Beijing.

“The summit will go a long way towards deepening the mutual trust between the two great neighbors,” he added. “We will make sure that the informal summit will be a complete success and a new milestone in the history of China-India relations.” Mr. Modi has sought to re-set ties after disputes over issues including their disputed border with Tibet and other issues.

Prime Minister Modi will be visiting the central Chinese city at the invitation of President Xi, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a joint media event with visiting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj after their talks.

It will be an important occasion for them (Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi) to exchange views on bilateral and international matters, from an overarching and long-term perspective with the objective of enhancing mutual communication,” Mr Swaraj said.

The Asian giants were locked in a 73-day military stand-off in a remote, high-altitude stretch of that boundary last year. At one point, soldiers from the two sides threw stones and punches. The confrontation between the nuclear-armed powers in the Himalayas underscored Indian alarm at China’s expanding security and economic links in South Asia.

China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative of transport and energy links bypasses India, apart from a corner of the disputed Kashmir region, also claimed by Pakistan, but involves India’s neighbors Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives.

Read more: China upgrades its air defense as Indian threat rises

Mr Modi’s previously unannounced Wuhan trip is even more unusual in that he will visit China again in June for a summit in Qingdao of the China and Russia-led security grouping, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which India joined last year.

It is almost unheard of for foreign leaders to visit China twice in such close succession. Mr. Xi is also extending Mr. Modi the rare honor of a meeting outside of Beijing, which almost never happens unless there is a multilateral summit taking place. Mr Modi’s nationalist government has reversed course on its relationship with Beijing apparently after realizing its jingoistic stance on China was not working.

The Asian giants were locked in a 73-day military stand-off in a remote, high-altitude stretch of that boundary last year. At one point, soldiers from the two sides threw stones and punches.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in India and who China considers a dangerous separatist, is also facing the cold shoulder. In March, India issued an unprecedented ban on Tibetans holding a rally with the Dalai Lama in New Delhi to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Other areas of disagreement remain however between Beijing and New Delhi. China has blocked India’s membership of a nuclear cartel and it has also been blocking UN sanctions against a Pakistan-based militant leader blamed for attacks on India.


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