Fortaleza: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met Chinese President Xi Jinping here and 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 two leaders, who arrived almost at the same time in this seaside city of Brazil last evening to attend the BRICS Summit, engaged shortly thereafter for what was described as “good discussions and good meeting”.
The meeting - first between the two leaders – was scheduled for 40 minutes but it went on for 80 minutes as it was a free-wheeling discussion without any constraints.
“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 tranquility on the border,” said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.
Prime Minister Modi told Xi that “if India and China could amicably resolve the Boundary Question, it would set an example for the entire world, on peaceful conflict resolution,” the statement added. Xi said that China and India are strategic partners rather than rivals.
“Judging from either bilateral, regional or global perspective, China and India are long-lasting strategic and cooperative partners, rather than rivals,” said Xi.
“I am willing to work together with Prime Minister Modi to constantly enhance the China-India strategic and cooperative partnership to a higher level, and jointly safeguard our strategic period of opportunities, as well as peace and stability of the region and the world at large,” he was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua news agency.
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. The Yatra involves trekking at high altitudes of up to 19,500 feet under arduous conditions.
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 told reporters.
“If I were to try and summarise what this meeting could be, perhaps I could do so in the sentence—‘Baat bhi achhi hui, mulaqaat bhi achhi hui' (They had good discussions and good meeting). That in sum and substance summarises the 80-minute meeting,” he said.
“It was a meeting in which President Xi said he acknowledged Prime Minister's deep understanding of the bilateral relationship,” Akbaruddin said.
“It was a meeting in which both agreed that tomorrow when they work in the BRICS they will work together at the international forum. And it was a meeting where all aspects of bilateral relations were discussed. Therefore, I had used that term at the beginning where I said—Baat bhi achhi hui, aur mulaqaat bhi achhi hui',” he said.
The leaders of the two fastest growing economies observed that India and China had enormous opportunities to not only forge mutually beneficial partnerships, but also serve as catalytic agents of Asian and global prosperity. President Xi underscored the importance of the bilateral relationship and said: “If the two countries speak in one voice, the whole world will attentively listen; if the two countries join hand in hand, the whole world will closely watch.”
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.
In a significant development, China invited India to attend a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in November. APEC is a forum for 21 countries that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The surprise invitation for the APEC summit came in the context of the two leaders discussing the need for the two countries to work together in international fora like BRICS and other such platforms.
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.
Akbaruddin, in his media briefing, said their talks centred around all aspects of the bilateral relations, regional and international matters.
President Xi in particular referred to Modi's experience in Gujarat as the Chief Minister and his focus on development.
Xi confirmed his visit to India in September and extended an invitation to Modi to visit China, which was accepted. The dates will be decided by diplomatic channels, Akbaruddin said.