Two leaders agree peaceful, cooperative relations ‘only correct choice’.
New Delhi: The recent stand-off at Doklam in Bhutanese territory and the scuffle at Pangong Tso lake in eastern Ladakh between Indian and Chinese security forces cast its shadow on Tuesday’s hour-long bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Chinese city of Xiamen, with both countries deciding that “personnel involved with defence and security must maintain strong contacts and cooperation and ensure that the sort of situations which happened recently do not recur”. The two leaders also agreed that peaceful, cooperative relations were the “only correct choice”.
Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar described the discussions as “constructive” and “forward-looking”.
There was no discussion on the issue of terrorism at the bilateral meeting.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was quoted by media reports from Xiamen as telling Prime Minister Modi that China wants to put its relationship with India on the “right track”.
“China is willing to work with India... to increase political trust, advance mutually beneficial cooperation and promote the further development of China-India relations along the correct path… China and India must maintain the fundamental determination that each other constitute mutual development opportunities and do not constitute a mutual threat,” the Chinese President was quoted as telling PM Modi.
India strongly made the point at the meeting that “peace and tranquillity in the border areas was a pre-requisite for the further development of our relationship and that there should be more effort to really enhance and strengthen the level of mutual trust between the two sides”.
Mr Jaishankar told reporters in Xiamen that areas of difference “should be handled with mutual respect”.
The Doklam stand-off was marked with shrill Chinese rhetoric against India.
“It is natural that between neighbours and large powers, there will be areas of difference. But where there is an area of difference, it should be handled with mutual respect and efforts should be made to find common ground in addressing those areas,” Mr Jaishankar said.
“The President and the PM again laid out a very positive view of where our relationship could go and there was some detailed discussion on the mechanisms which could help both countries go forward… like the joint economic group, defence and security group, strategic group... I would characterise the approach of the two sides as a forward-looking approach,” the foreign secretary said.
“On both sides, there was a sense that more efforts need to be made to ensure that these kinds of situations don’t recur… There was a sense that if the relationship has to go forward, then peace and tranquillity in the border areas should be maintained. Both of us (India and China) know what happened. So this was not a backwards-looking conversation. This was a forward-looking conversation,” he added.
“The counter-terrorism issues were largely taken up at the discussions leading up to Brics. They were not addressed in today’s meeting. And the broad sense of those discussions really was that most countries feel very similarly about the challenges faced by terrorism and so this was not just an “India position”.
It was a common position and many other countries had equally strong views on this and so the listings that you see and the statements and commitments which are there in the Brics statement, these are common commitments of all Brics members. In today’s bilateral, this specific issue (of Pakistan-based terrorism) did not come up,” Mr Jaishankar said.