India and China should settle “sensitive” issues and “strengthen strategic communication”, President Xi Jinping told Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou over the weekend.
The Chinese foreign ministry carefully avoided any mention of Pakistan, terrorism and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – Modi’s motifs in his talks with Xi on Sunday– as it distilled the President’s message to the Indian leader as one focussed on building ties through communication, cooperation and mutual respect.
The two leaders held talks for 35 minutes during their eighth one-on-one meeting before the formal inauguration of the G20 Summit.
In a written response to the Hindustan Times about China’s version of the meeting, the foreign ministry said both sides raised “common concerns” but did not give details.
“The two leaders have exchanged views on the Sino-Indian relationship and some common concerns,” the foreign ministry said.
“Both sides have also reached agreement on building mutual respect, appropriately settling sensitive issues to avoid any impact on the normal development of the bilateral ties,” Xi told Modi, according to the foreign ministry.
At Sunday’s meeting, Modi brought up all the prickly issues that have recently impacted ties. But instead of talking about differences, the Chinese foreign ministry referred to consensus reached during the meeting.
“The two sides have reached consensus on taking hold of the general direction of the bilateral relationship, strengthening strategic communication, discussing development strategies, expanding communication and cooperation in various fields and improving the Sino-Indian strategic developmental partnership,” the ministry said.
Modi last met Xi in Tashkent on June 24 on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). It was at a time when China was seen to have taken the lead in tearing up India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the bloc that controls trade in nuclear technology and know-how.
It was also at a time when bilateral relations were perceived to be slipping into a chill that threatened to derail the promise of win-win economic cooperation.
After the Modi-Xi meeting on Sunday, China’s official Xinhua news agency had described bilateral ties as “hard won” and “sound”.
“China and India should respect and care for each other on issues of major concern, and handle differences in a constructive way,” Xi was quoted as having told Modi.