Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised India’s concerns over Beijing's plans to construct three dams across the Brahmaputra river during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Durban on the sidelines of the BRICS summit late on Wednesday night.
This was first high-level interaction between Singh and the new Chinese leadership and the 45-minute meeting between the leaders also affirmed their intent to take the bilateral ties to a new level and "higher growth trajectory."
“The bilateral relationship with China is of great importance. As Prime Minister of India, it has been my great privilege to interact regularly with the Chinese relationship over the last decade. I hope to intensify such dialogue and communications with you and the new leadership of China to put our relations on an even higher growth trajectory,” Singh said.
The leaders touched upon the entire gamut of bilateral ties but there was no discussion on the South China sea issue, official sources said.
China’s recent approval for three new dams on the Brahmaputra on the middle reaches of the river early this year raised concerns in India.
Beijing had thus ended a two-year halt in approving new projects on the river. India, the lower-riparian state has been closely watching Beijing’s plans as it can affect the water flow of the Brahmaputra in the country.
China has been maintaining that these run-of-the-river projects. The entire expanse of the bilateral relationship was discussed and the meeting was very positive, the sources said.
The two leaders expressed regards for each other. They include New Delhi’s concerns about growing trade imbalance with China and the border talks.
However, due to the paucity of time both leaders couldn’t go into details about each issue, official sources said.
The two leaders expressed a desire to continue the momentum in the relationship. The sources said during an informal discussion at the summit earlier in the day, President Xi told Singh that he was aware that the Prime Minister had excellent relations with his predecessor Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao and he would like to carry forward that.
Last week, in an interaction with BRICS journalists in Beijing, Xi had said he was looking forward to meeting Singh in Durban.
Xi had proposed a five-point formula under which both the countries would accommodate each other's concerns in matters of “core interests.”
Xi, who has also assumed the role of chief of the Communist Party and army, had said the boundary question was complex left behind by history and peace and tranquility should be maintained.
Pending settlement of the issue, both the countries should not allow differences to come in the way of overall development of the bilateral ties.
At the meeting, the Prime Minister invited President Xi to visit India to which he said he accepted it and would make the visit at an appropriate time.
Similarly, the President extended an invitation to Singh to visit China and he reciprocated in the same fashion.
Singh was assisted by national security adviser Shivshankar Menon. The union finance minister P Chidambaram and commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had already left for Delhi.
The two Politburo members of the Chinese communist party--- Wang Hhuning and Li Zhanshu -- and China’s commerce and foreign ministers were present.
Yang Jeichi, state counsellor who has replaced Dai Binguo, as the special Representative for border talks with India was also present. The scheduling issues had delayed the meeting of the two leaders by three hours.