In a significant development, China invited India to attend a summit of Asia and Pacific (APEC) leaders on Tuesday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Xi Jin Ping and discussed various issues including the need to resolve the boundary question in an amicable manner.
The two leaders, who arrived almost at the same time here last evening for attending the BRICS summit, engaged shortly thereafter for what was described as “good discussions and good meeting”.
The meeting was scheduled for 40 minutes but it went on for 80 as it was freewheeling discussion without any constraints.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed for a solution to the boundary question, saying if the two sides could amicably resolve the vexed issue, it would set an example for the world on peaceful conflict resolution.
The discussions centred on all aspects of the bilateral relations, regional and international matters.
The surprise invitation for the APEC summit as part of partnership and engagement came in the context of the two leaders discussing the need for the two countries to work together in international forum like BRICS and other forum.
Today’s meeting was the fourth high-level engagement between the two countries since the Modi government assumed charge six weeks ago.
“Had a very fruitful meeting with Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping. We discussed a wide range of issues,” Modi tweeted after the meeting with Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China.
“Both sides emphasised on the need to find a solution to the Boundary Question. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of strengthening mutual trust and confidence, and maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border,” said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The two sides have held 17 rounds of the Special Representative talks aimed at resolving the boundary issue.
India asserts that the border dispute covered nearly 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control, while China claims that it confined to about 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.
During the meeting, Modi also suggested the addition of one more route for the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra in Tibet, keeping in view the terrain difficulties.
President Xi “accepted this as a suggestion for consideration,” the statement said.
President Xi underscored the importance of the bilateral relationship and said: ‘When India and China meet, the whole world watches.’
The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the high momentum of bilateral engagement during the past few weeks, including the visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to China and the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to India as President Xi’s Special Envoy in June.
Xi also said India should deepen its engagement with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation founded in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Prime Minister Modi said India currently has observer status in the SCO, and was ready to accept additional responsibility, if asked to.
PM also expressed hope for increase in tourism and ties between the people of the two ancient civilisations. Xi confirmed his visit to India in September and extended an invitation to Modi to visit China, which was accepted.
On his part, Modi also emphasised on the economic relations between the two countries and talked about cooperation in the infrastructure sector, industrial parks and investment.
Xi acknowledged that there was a possibility of enhanced trade, particularly in the services sector from the Indian side and the increased Chinese tourist numbers to India.
The Prime Minister referred to terrorism and extremism and said India and China should work together to fight the menace in the region in view of the common civilisational heritage they had.
The two leaders appeared well prepared for the meeting as both of them referred to the statements made by the other before they assumed power, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
It was a substantive and a very cordial and warm meeting in which the two leaders struck a personal rapport which augurs well for the future, the spokesman said.
To a question on the incursions by the Chinese army on the border, Akbaruddin said India conveyed its concerns to China on the issue.
Replying to questions whether any timeliness were discussed on resolving the border question, Akbaruddin said obviously since it was a first meeting between them they could not go beyond their initial references and stated positions.