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Modi, Xi discuss border, building of trust

PM Modi in China

Xi’an: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today began a three-day visit to China from this north west city, the hometown of Chinese President Xi Jinping with whom he held “very substantive” discussions focussing on strengthening of mutual trust and the boundary issue.

On his first visit to China since assuming office last year, Modi was warmly greeted by Xi, who set aside protocol to receive a foreign dignitary outside Beijing in replay of the Indian leader’s gesture in September last when he welcomed the Chinese President in his hometown Ahmedabad.

Even as mutual warmth was apparent, Modi raised the question of some USD 46 billion investment by China in an economic corridor passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), about which India had protested. The investments were announced during Xi’s visit to Pakistan last month.

Another ticklish issue reportedly raised by Modi concerns the issuance of stapled visas by China to residents of Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese claim to be a part of southern Tibet, a claim totally rejected by India.

For the record, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said the “very substantive talks” between the two leaders covered subjects ranging from political, economic and global issues like terrorism, UNSC reforms and India’s membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

“On the political side, there was a lot of discussion on strengthening trust and increasing convergence,” he said while¬† briefing media on the 90-minute delegation-level talks without taking any questions.

He said the two leaders discussed the boundary issue, including peace and tranquility, besides trans-border rivers.

The boundary issue has been a sticking point in the relations between the two major Asian countries and both are making efforts to settle it through Special Representatives’ talks. The Special Representatives have held 18 rounds of discussions so far.

Talking about the atmospherics at the meeting, the third in a year between Modi and the all-powerful Xi, who is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Jaishankar said, “the atmosphere was very comfortable.

“So, in the sense it was building on the chemistry between the two of them which started last September.”

On the economic front, Modi and Xi discussed the issue of trade deficit, which is in favour of China to the tune of USD 38 billion, and ways to address it.

They also talked about the investment climate and challenges of reforms, Jaishankar said.

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