Skirting the recent Sino-India diplomatic spat over Arunachal Pradesh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Wen Jiabao on Friday made it clear that differences should not impede growth of a robust strategic partnership between the two countries.
Meeting on a positive note in this Thai beach resort on the margins of the ASEAN summit, the two leaders underlined the importance of building trust, harmony and better understanding.
They made no mention of the controversies over Arunachal Pradesh and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama during the meeting at Dusit Thani hotel which lasted almost an hour.
Singh said both sides should have better understanding at the political level so that the bilateral relations are robust and are strengthened.
Wen concurred with Singh that the issues which may arise in the bilateral relationship should be "properly handled" through discussions and they should not become impediments in the development of the friendly ties, N Ravi, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters.
The meeting came as the two countries struck conciliatory notes after provocative statements from China on Arunachal Pradesh evoked a strong response from India.
China regards Arunachal Pradesh a disputed territory and objected to Singh's visit there for assembly polls, triggering sharp reaction from India which asserted that the state is an integral part of the country.
"Neither side should let our differences act as impediments to the growth of relations between the two countries," Singh told Wen during the meeting, according to Ravi.
Wen referred to the 10-prong strategy shared between Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao as also to a bilateral 'Vision Document' issued last year aimed at improving ties, particularly in the field of trade and commerce, and maintaining peace and tranquility along the borders.
"It is important to implement these agreements," Singh said in response to Wen's remarks. The Chinese Prime Minister also said that both sides should seize opportunity of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations to "heighten" the bilateral relations.
The two countries had established diplomatic ties on April one, 1950 after People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.
Singh said the two countries should celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties in a
Wen said that for the 21st century to become the Asia century, India and China should live in harmony and enjoy
prosperity. He said China is ready to maintain high-level exchanges between the two countries.
During the "warm" meeting, it was emphasised that it was in the interest of both the countries, region and world to
strengthen the Sino-India relations, Ravi said.
Singh expressed his commitment to work with China on global issues like climate change, world trade and financial
The Prime Minister said the Indian side was looking forward to visit by President Pratibha Patil to China next
year on mutually acceptable dates.
In his opening remarks, Wen said "we want to have a healthy and steady relationship with India." Wen described Singh as an "old friend" and recalled their several previous meetings. "In the years ahead we are confident that we will have good relations," he said.
The Chinese Premier also felicitated Singh on his re-election. Terming his meeting with Wen as productive, Singh said it
was a "good discussion" and the two sides agreed to further promote strategic and cooperative partnership and seek to
build trust and understanding.
Wen was quoted as saying at the beginning of his talks with Singh by China's official Xinhua news agency that "we
have reached important consensus on promoting bilateral ties, and I believe that our two countries could maintain a good
relationship in the future, which conforms with the interests of the two countries and I have confidence about that."
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Prime Minister's Principal Secretary T K A Nair and Ravi attended
the meeting from the Indian side.
Ahead of the Singh-Wen meeting, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said last night that the relationship between the
two countries is a "complex one" though it has "developed in many areas" in recent years.
Other issues which recently led to the war of words between the two fastest growing economies in the world included China issuing visas to people from Jammu and Kashmir on loose sheets. India had also said that the Chinese developmental activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were not in the interest of the Sino-India ties.
China has protested the Dalai Lama's planned visit to Arunachal Pradesh next month. It accuses the Dalai, who fled
to India in 1949 after a failed uprising against the Communist rule, of indulging in anti-China activities and trying to
"split" Tibet from the country.
Concerns have also been expressed, especially by Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, over reports of China building dams on its side of the river Brahmputra.
However, in the last few days conciliatory tones were heard from both New Delhi and Beijing. Senior functionaries of
both the countries said the border issue could be resolved by dialogue.