India's Modi Invites China's Xi for an Informal Summit in 2019

India's Modi Invites China's Xi for an Informal Summit in 2019

India's Modi Invites China's Xi for an Informal Summit in 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping today walked along a sidewalk on the shores of the picturesque East Lake here and later sailed in the same boat for "peace, prosperity and development" in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Last year, Indian and Chinese troops faced off on the Doklam plateau, an area high in the Himalayas claimed both by China and by India's ally Bhutan.

While both the leaders made a decision to issue "strategic guidance" to their militaries to strengthen communications to build trust and understanding - a move aimed at avoiding a Dokalam-like situation in the future - they also agreed to undertake a joint India-China economic project in war-torn Afghanistan, much to the displeasure of Pakistan.

"There is a commitment on both sides to suggest to the two militaries that they need to ensure that existing confidence building measures and existing institutional mechanisms are utilised more effectively", Gokhale said after the end of the two-day "milestone" summit.

It also said another fact is that both countries are suspicious of each other, which is keeping New Delhi and Beijing from deepening cooperation and working together on regional and global issues.

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"They also agreed that both sides have the maturity and wisdom to handle the differences through peaceful discussion within the context of the overall relationship, bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other's sensitivities, concerns and aspirations", Gokhale said.

The two countries have also agreed to push forward bilateral trade and investment in a balanced and sustainable manner by taking advantage of complementarities between the two countries.

India and China went to war in 1962 over their border and still carry the baggage of 3,500 km long disputed boundary. Several newspapers carried large photographs and articles on the summit, some placing news of the meetings ahead of the historic meeting between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and the South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between the two countries.

As for Afghanistan, the details would be announced once the two sides decided on the project.

From a strategic an security perspective, Kabul is important for India to help neutralize the impact of terrorist networks, suspected to be supported by Pakistan, and operating from there as well as Afghanistan. We have to see if this signals the effacing of India's vast trade deficit with China because Indian goods and services are denied access to Chinese markets.

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This was followed by a private lunch hosted by President Xi in honour of Prime Minister Modi.

"Yet neither Beijing nor New Delhi calls the other an enemy, which means both expect bilateral ties to improve".

India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the icebreaking meetings between Modi and Xi will have a "positive impact" on a number of thorny issues that have bogged down the two uneasy Asian neighbours.

Between India and China, their collective population and economies comprise more than 2.6 billion people and 17.6% of the global economy.

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