The leaders of nuclear-armed rivals China and India endorsed the ongoing efforts by representatives from both countries to reach a “mutually acceptable settlement” to the tensions along their border during an informal meeting over the weekend.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the two leaders agreed to handle their differences in a peaceful manner during the meeting on Saturday, Reuters reports.
On the issue of the India-China boundary question, the two leaders endorsed the work of the special representatives in their efforts to find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement.
And the two leaders also underscored that in the meantime it is important to maintain peace and tranquility in all areas of the India-China border region.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou revealed that Xi and Modi “agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement to the boundary problem,” Reuters notes.
“The biggest takeaway was that we have to increase mutual trust,” Kong said. “The reason that we had this dispute was because we were both mistrustful of each other.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Saturday, only months after a dispute over a stretch of their border in a high-altitude Himalayan region triggered fears of war once again.
Last year, China’s decision to deploy troops to accompany workers seeking to extend a road into disputed territory in the Himalayas’ Doklam region that India claims belongs to its ally Bhutan triggered a nearly 70-day stand-off (June 16 thru August 28) between Beijing and New Delhi.
China reportedly maintains a significant contingent of troops in the region. Only a few months after the confrontation, in late December 2017, Indian forces thwarted a repeated attempt by China to build a road in disputed territory.
That time, Chinese soldiers crossed an estimated 200 meters into Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh.
Amid the ongoing strained relationship, Modi and Xi reportedly emphasized mutual trust during their meeting.
China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency notes:
Xi said that both sides should develop Sino-Indian ties from a strategic perspective, constantly enhance mutual understanding and trust, and promote all sectors and people of the two countries to deepen mutual understanding and cultivate friendly feelings.
China and India are getting stronger and stronger, and this represents an irresistible trend and offers important opportunities to each other, Xi said.
Both China and India stand for an independent foreign policy, he said, calling on the two sides to correctly analyze and view each other’s intentions with a positive, open and inclusive attitude.
“China and India should be good neighbors and friends,” the Chinese president declared. “The two countries should regard each other as a positive factor in the balance of global power and take each other as partners for realizing the dream of development.”
PM Modi discussed the meeting via Twitter, describing the conversations as “fruitful.”
The talks with President Xi Jinping focussed on diverse areas of India-China cooperation. We discussed ways to give impetus to our economic ties as well as people-to-people relations. Other areas we spoke about include agriculture, technology, energy and tourism. pic.twitter.com/vgvUSjT1XX
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 28, 2018
“Our talks were extensive and fruitful. We deliberated on stronger India-China relations as well as other global issues,” he wrote, adding:
Strong India-China friendship is beneficial for the people of our nations and the entire world. … The talks with President Xi Jinping focussed on diverse areas of India-China cooperation. We discussed ways to give impetus to our economic ties as well as people-to-people relations. Other areas we spoke about include agriculture, technology, energy, and tourism.
Modi an Xi also discussed the threat of terrorism.
The Diplomat reports:
The two leaders also underlined the common threat posed by terrorism and committed to cooperate further on counterterrorism. In an important move and one likely to raise hackles in Pakistan, they agreed to undertake a joint economic projects in [war-ravaged] Afghanistan.
According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China, like India, faces Islamic terrorism from its ally Pakistan.
Pakistan and India share a longtime rivalry.
To the dismay of China, India continues to oppose Beijing’s ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a component of the multi-trillion dollar One Belt One Road (OBOR) project, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
New Delhi opposes CPEC because it is expected to run through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, a region claimed by China, its ally Pakistan, and their rival India.
In 1962, India and China went to war over a border dispute the ended in a ceasefire. The border tension between the two regional rivals has sparked heated rhetoric.
China taunted India over the Doklam dispute in March, declaring the region undisputed “Chinese territory” and urging New Delhi to “learn some lessons” from the incident.
Days before the recent meeting between Modi and Xi, India proclaimed it is ready for war with China if necessary.