JOHANNESBURG: Signalling a potential easing of the three-year standoff between the two Asian powers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a brief conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg and underscored the need for maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
The meeting took place on August 23, but was acknowledged only a day after by India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra. “In a conversation with President Xi Jinping of China, Prime Minister highlighted India’s concerns on the unresolved issues along the LAC in the western sector of the India-China border areas,” Mr Kwatara told journalists in the South African capital.
“Prime Minister underlined that the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and observing and respecting the LAC are essential for the normalisation of the India-China relationship.”
“In this regard, the two leaders agreed to direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation.”
The leaders’ instructions about intensifying efforts at “expeditious disengagement and de-escalation,” have fuelled hopes of resolving the border standoff in Ladakh, which has put enormous strain on bilateral relations. India has made it clear repeatedly that only full and verifiable withdrawal of all Chinese troops to pre-April 2020 can lead to normalization of bilateral relations and the resumption of dialogue between Asia’s top economies.
The brief but significant conversation between PM Modi and President Xi in Johannesburg was reminiscent of the meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.
The conversation also indicated that a positive atmosphere is being created for President Xi’s visit to New Delhi for the G20 summit on September 9-10.
China has appreciated India’s support for the expansion of the BRICS grouping.
In his conversation with Prime Minister Modi, President Xi stressed that improving China-India relations serves common interests and is conducive to peace and stability of the region and the world. This was said in a separate Chinese readout on the exchanges between the two leaders on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in Johannesburg.
“The two sides should bear in mind the overall interests of their bilateral relations and handle properly the border issue so as to jointly safeguard peace & tranquility in the border region,” the statement released by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi said.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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