Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

Indian PM Modi to Xi Jinping: Differences Should Not Escalate into Disputes

School students wave the national flag of China and India ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit Chennai School students wave the national flag of China and India ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit Chennai
Steven Clarke | 12 October, 2019, 14:24

Xi's trip, which extends into the weekend, includes a second informal summit with Modi and the first visit to Nepal by a Chinese president in 23 years.

Modi, dressed in a traditional veshti (dhoti/sarong), a white shirt and an angavastram, welcomed Xi, who was informally dressed in a white shirt and black pants, when he arrived in Mamallapuram. Modi gave Xi a guided tour of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, which was built during 7th and 8th century and includes Arjuna's Penance, Panch Rathas, Shore Temple and other monuments.

That meeting went beyond schedule, with the leaders talking for two and a half hours. Modi later hosted a private dinner for Xi at the temple complex that rounded off the programme on Friday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar called it "a highly productive day".

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

The first informal meeting between the two leaders took place in China's central city of Wuhan in April previous year. The broad agenda included their unresolved border dispute, trade and people-to-people contacts besides regional and global issues.

A day after an informal summit with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping on the seaside town of Mamallapuram, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted from his personal account that he took a "refreshing walk" along the scenic coast, and "plogged" his way along.

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Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong was quoted as saying by news reports that a "new set of consensus" including "guiding principles" on giving a new direction to the bilateral ties were expected after this weekend's summit.

Modi further added that the two countries are amicably finding solutions to disputed issues.

Modi and Xi are meeting in the southern town of Mamallapuram, home to centuries old wind-swept temple monuments but also popular with tourists for surfing in its ideal waves. "India's position has been consistent and clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India".

When Xi said he supports Pakistan's "legitimate rights", India's foreign ministry thundered it was "not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India".

But since Wuhan other irritants have emerged, including a reported "scuffle" in Ladakh last month and Indian military activities in the northern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, part of which Beijing claims. Modi, a conservative Hindu politician, said India and China have been economic powers that traded with one another "for the most part of the last 2000 years".

In 2017 Delhi and Beijing staged an alarming two-month face-off on the Doklam plateau - claimed by China and Bhutan - when Chinese troops started building a road and India sent its forces to halt them. Earlier, Modi and Xi came together to the venue in a golf cart.

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