At meeting with China’s Xi, PM Modi drives point home on terror from Pak
Pakistan is yet to take “concrete action” on India’s concerns and create an atmosphere free of terrorism, which is necessary to facilitate any possible engagement between the two sides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday.
Modi made the remarks when the issue of Pakistan came up during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek.
“The Prime Minister did inform President Xi Jinping that Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free of terrorism and that at this stage, we did not see this as happening as yet, and that, therefore, we expect Pakistan to take concrete action on the issues that India has proposed in the areas of concern that we have flagged to Pakistan,” foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told a news briefing after the meeting.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan too is in Bishkek for the summit though Indian officials have ruled out the possibility of a bilateral meeting. Modi’s remarks made it clear there is little possibility of an immediate breakthrough in improving relations between the two sides, which nosedived after the suicide attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed at Pulwama in Kashmir on February 14.
Watch | SCO summit: PM Modi holds bilateral meeting with Xi Jinping, discusses Pak
Reports from Bishkek said Modi and Khan didn’t shake hands or exchange pleasantries at a dinner hosted by the Kyrgyz president and at a concert. At both events, the two leaders were seated a few seats apart.
Modi also told Xi that India has a “consistent position on Pakistan”, which includes discussing all issues through a bilateral mechanism and looking for peaceful settlement through negotiation, Gokhale said.
“We are committed to this process. The Prime Minister recalled that he has made efforts in this regard and these efforts have been derailed,” Gokhale added, an apparent reference to Modi’s efforts to reach out to the Pakistan government in his first term.
Modi’s meeting with Xi, the first since his electoral victory last month, largely focused on preparations for the second informal summit between the two leaders, expected to be held in India on October 11, and the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2020. Modi proposed the two sides should organise 70 events, 35 in each country, and the two leaders tasked their foreign ministers to finalise the details.
Both leaders agreed there was a “new momentum” in bilateral relations since the first informal summit at Wuhan last year and Modi noted this had led to improved “strategic communication at all levels”, which had resulted in the resolution of some long-pending issues such as the listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar at the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee and the opening of Bank of China branch in India.
They agreed that they “must thoroughly prepare” for the second informal summit so that its outcome meets the expectations of both countries, Gokhale said.
Modi also said it was important to tackle the trade deficit with China and appreciated the simplification of regulatory procedures by the Chinese side, especially for non-basmati rice, sugar, agricultural products and pharmaceuticals. He hoped there will now be a “significant uptick” in India’s exports of these products.
There was a brief discussion on the boundary issue and Modi and Xi instructed the Special Representatives for this matter – National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and foreign minister Wang Yi – to expedite discussions for “achieving a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution”, Gokhale said.
A statement from China’s foreign ministry said Xi again congratulated Modi on his re-election and said both the countries should strengthen confidence-building measures and maintain stability in the border areas. China and India should “jointly safeguard free trade and multilateralism”, he added.
Xi said the two sides “should adhere to the basic judgment that China and India are mutual development opportunities and do not pose a threat to each other”, the statement said. They should “deepen mutual trust, focus on cooperation and properly handle differences to make Sino-Indian relations a greater positive asset”.
The Chinese leader added the two sides should also “jointly promote regional interconnectivity, including the construction of economic corridors between Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar, to better achieve cooperative and common development”.
During a separate bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Modi accepted an invitation to be the chief guest at the Eastern Economic Forum to be held in Vladivostok during September 4-6. The forum will be followed by the annual India-Russia Summit at the same venue, Gokhale said.
Modi told Putin business delegations and representatives of key Indian states will visit Russia’s resource-rich Far East before his visit to work on potential areas of cooperation as part of India’s Act East policy. The two sides also discussed cooperation in exploring Arctic oil and gas reserves and the use of skilled Indian manpower in Russia’s under-populated Far East, Gokhale said.
These issues will be further discussed at a strategic economic dialogue in July, while Russia’s deputy premier and special representative for the Arctic and Far East, Yury Trutnev, will visit India in June.