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Incursions cast shadow on Sino-India meet, Modi raises issue

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NEW DELHI: With the continuing stand-off in Ladakh casting a shadow over the Sino-India talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday raised “serious concerns” over the repeated incidents along the border and sought an early settlement of the boundary question.
Meeting visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping against the backdrop of Chinese Army and civilian incursions, the Prime Minister made it plain to him that the agreement between the two countries on maintaining peace and tranquility on the border should be “strictly observed”.
After taking him on a guided tour of Ahmedabad’s landmarks yesterday, Modi sat with Xi for a summit meeting for nearly three hours–both restricted and delegation level talks–when it was decided that China would invest USD 20 billion in next five years.
But the discussions mainly appeared to have centred around the embarrassing border incidents that continued in the Chumar and Demchok sectors last night and this morning.
Yesterday, Modi had raised the issue in Ahmedabad though the government had maintained that it was a “courtesy discussion”. “I raised our serious concern over repeated incidents along the border. We agreed that peace and tranquility in the border region constitutes an essential foundation for the mutual trust and confidence and for realising the full potential of our relationship.
“This is an important understanding, which should be strictly observed. While our border related agreements and Confidence Building Measures have worked well, I also suggested that clarification of Line of Actual Control would greatly contribute to our efforts to maintain peace and tranquility and requested President Xi to resume the stalled process of clarifying the LAC. We should also seek an early settlement of the boundary question,” Modi told the media in the presence of the Chinese President.
On his part, Xi sought to explain the border incidents saying,”since the border is yet to be demarcated, sometimes there might be certain incidents”.
But, he said, the two sides were fully capable of acting promptly to effectively manage the situation through various levels of border related mechanisms so that such incidents do not have a large impact on bilateral relations.
“China has the determination to work with India through friendly consultation to settle the boundary question at an early date,” Xi said.
After the talks on the second day of his three-day visit, 12 agreements were also signed on various issues including setting up two Chinese industrial parks in India and investments in the Railways.
Modi noted that China was India’s largest neighbour and “therefore, a climate of mutual trust and confidence, respect for each other’s sensitivities and concerns and peace and stability in our ties and along our borders are essential for us to realise the enormous potential in our relations”.
Apart from border incidents, Modi also raised concerns over Chinese visa regime and trans-border rivers.
“We discussed India’s concerns relating to China’s visa policy and trans-border rivers. I am confident that their early resolution would take mutual trust to a new level,” the Prime Minister said.
On his part, Xi said the two sides agreed to continue to be respectful of and sensitive to each other’s concerns and appropriately handle the outstanding issues between China and India in a positive attitude.
“China and India are important neighbours to each other.
There are certain other outstanding issues between the two countries. The two sides should work actively and seriously to address and handle them in the same spirit of seeking amicable relationship with each other,” Xi said.
Asserting that he attaches great importance and priority to relations with China, Modi said during the talks over the two days in Ahmedabad and Delhi they have decided to deepen the engagement at all levels and hold regular summit level meetings.
Modi also announced that the countries have decided that they will begin the process of discussions on civil nuclear energy cooperation that will bolster the broader cooperation on energy security.
Noting that the economic relations do not do justice to India-China potential, the Prime Minister expressed concern at the slowdown in trade and the worsening trade imbalance.
“I sought his partnership in improving market access and investment opportunities for Indian companies in China.
President Xi assured me of his commitment to take concrete steps to address our concerns,” he said, adding he has invited Chinese investments in India’s infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.
Referring that the agreements on two Chinese industrial parks in India and a commitment to realise about USD 20 billion of Chinese investments in the next five years, Modi said it opens “a new chapter in our economic relations”.
Significantly, the Chinese financial pledge is much less that what India got from Japan during Modi’s visit. Japan had pledged USD 35 billion spread over five years.
Describing Xi’s visit as “historic opportunity for the relationship between India and China, filled with vast possibilities”, Modi said, “We can start a new era in our relations. If we are sensitive to our opportunities and challenges, then I am confident that we will fulfill our responsibility to make it a great success”.
During their talks, the two sides agreed to hold the first round of maritime cooperation dialogue within this year to exchange views on maritime security, including anti-piracy, freedom of navigation and cooperation between maritime agencies of both countries.
The pacts on establishing a provincial partnership between Gujarat and Guangdong Provinces and Sister-City relationships between Mumbai, Shanghai and Ahmedabad-Guangzhou were aimed at promoting best practices in these cities.
The leaders also agreed to have 2015 as the “Visit India Year” in China and 2016 as the “Visit China Year” in India.
Terming his talks with Modi “fruitful”, Xi said he has invited Modi to visit China next year while praising the leader, saying under him India will touch new growth heights.
The two leaders also discussed regional and international developments and agreed to strengthen strategic dialogue on these issues.
“We both understand that India and China have a shared interest in a peaceful and stable region, including peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. We will build closer cooperation on the shared challenges of terrorism and extremism. We also agreed to cooperate on our many shared interests at the global level,” Modi said.
The leaders discussed regional connectivity and the proposal for the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Economic Corridor.
“Located at the crossroads of Asia, India believes that reconnecting Asia is important for its collective prosperity.
I also believe that our efforts to rebuild physical connectivity in the region would also require a peaceful, stable and cooperative environment,” Modi said.
Welcoming India’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Xi said he expects India’s support for China’s role in the SAARC grouping. (PTI)

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