Modi meets Xi, seeks border solution, more investment

Fortaleza (Brazil)/New Delhi


Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday met Chinese President Xi Jinping and called for a solution to the "boundary question", saying that if India and China could amicably resolve the issue, it would set an example for the world.

In his first meeting with Xi since becoming prime minister, Modi called for enhanced Chinese investment in infrastructure.

He hoped that trade imbalance between the two countries will be resolved and suggested an additional route for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra keeping in view difficulties of the terrain.

He said the two countries should work together for addressing terrorism and extremism in the region.

Xi underscored the importance of bilateral relations, and said: "When India and China meet, the whole world watches."

China invited India to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in November, the first time India has been invited for the meet.

Modi met Xi within three hours of his arrival in Fortaleza in Brazil for the BRICS summit of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa leaders.

Xi also arrived in Brazil shortly before the meeting.

"Both went straight into their first meeting here, indicating the importance that both give to this relationship and to their discussions," external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi.

The meeting, which was scheduled for about 30-40 minutes, lasted almost 80 minutes.

"The effort was to have a freewheeling discussion. The focus was on establishing a personal rapport. And I think that worked very well because both the leaders seemed to have prepared very well for this meeting," Akbaruddin said.

A statement by the Prime Minister's Office said the two leaders observed that India and China had enormous opportunities to forge mutually beneficial partnerships and serve as catalytic agents of Asian and global prosperity.

The statement said both sides emphasised the need to find a solution to the boundary question.

"The prime minister stressed the importance of strengthening mutual trust and confidence, and maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border. He said if India and China could amicably resolve the boundary question, it would set an example for the entire world, on peaceful conflict resolution," the statement said.

It said Xi accepted for consideration Modi's suggestion for an additional route for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

Xi also agreed that balance in trade was necessary for a sustainable economic relationship and noted that enhanced services exports from India to China could be one way to address the issue.

He identified Chinese tourism to India as another area of opportunity.

Inviting the Indian prime minister for the APEC meeting, Xi said: "India should deepen its engagement with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)."

Modi said India currently has 'observer' status in the SCO, and was ready to accept additional responsibility, if asked to.

Earlier Tuesday, Modi tweeted that he had a fruitful discussion with the Chinese president.

"Had a very fruitful meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. We discussed a wide range of issues," Modi said in the tweet.

Modi referred to Xi's planned visit to India in September and responded to an invitation to him, saying he looked forward to an early visit to China.

Modi's meeting with Xi was the fourth high-level interaction since the National Democratic Alliance government assumed power.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited India while Vice President Hamid Ansari and army chief Gen. Bikram Singh visited China.

Akbaruddin termed the meeting "substantive" as also "very cordial, very warm, based on personal rapport and understanding of each other's previous experiences".

"It was a meeting which augurs well for the future of India and China," he said.

Responding to a query on the boundary question, Akbaruddin said "In a first meeting, we cannot go beyond initial references."

He said peace and tranquility on the border was "a well-known phenomenon" and nothing should be done that undermines the trajectory of relationship.

Asked about India's concerns about Arunachal Pradesh, which China terms as "southern Tibet", Akbaruddin said the boundary was never a general issue and there were clear specifics.

"When we mean the boundary, it means our concerns on that," he said.

Modi also referred to the possibility of two countries cooperating in meeting development challenges so that the aspirations of people could be met.

He talked of skill, speed and scale, and said any assistance or linkages which will boost development were a priority.

The sixth BRICS summit meeting is being held in Brazil July 15-16. - IANS