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PM Modi, Xi Jinping move on from Doklam, vow to build trust and ensure border peace

Chinese President Xi Jinping and PM Narendra Modi reaffirm that good relations are in the interest of both India and China. The meeting comes a week after the two countries ended a tense standoff in Doklam.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2017 00:19 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Xiamen
Narendra Modi,Xi Jinping,BRICS summit 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen on Tuesday. (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping agreed on Tuesday that more must be done to improve mutual trust and avoid future border standoffs, as they sought to mend ties damaged by a two-month-long tense military faceoff on an icy Himalayan plateau.

The two spoke for more than an hour after the Brics nations summit, a meeting described by Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar as a “forward looking conversation” that recognised that peace along the border was a prerequisite for better ties.

Talks between Xi and Modi had been in question after Chinese and Indian troops faced off in the Doklam border region, their most serious military confrontation in decades that ended last week as abruptly as it had begun in June.

“It is natural that between neighbours and large powers there would be areas of difference. But where there is an area of difference, it should be handled with mutual respect and efforts should be made to find common ground,” Jaishankar said.

“On both sides there was a sense that more efforts need to be made to ensure that these kinds of situations don’t reoccur.”

Jaishankar said the two leaders affirmed that “peace and tranquility in the border areas was a prerequisite for the further development of our relationship and that there should be more effort made to really enhance and strengthen the level of mutual trust between the two sides”.

In response, Xi told Modi that healthy, stable ties were in the interest of both countries, a statement from China’s foreign ministry said.

“China is willing to work with India ... to increase political trust, advance mutually beneficial cooperation and promote the further development of China-India relations along the correct path,” it said.

The two sides agreed that Chinese and Indian defence and security personnel must maintain strong contact and cooperation to prevent future border standoffs.

The trouble in Doklam, known as “Donglang” in Chinese, started when Chinese soldiers started to extend a road, prompting India to deploy troops to stop the construction. Doklam is claimed by both Bhutan and China. India does not claim Doklam for itself but is closely allied with Bhutan, which it regards as a buffer against China.

Meanwhile, Islamabad on Tuesday rejected a Brics statement that militant groups in Pakistan – including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed – pose a regional security concern, with its defence minister Khurram Dastagir Khan saying no group operates freely inside Pakistan.

“These organizations, they have some of their remnants in Pakistan, which we’re cleaning,” Khan told the Geo TV channel, without specifying which groups he was referring to. The Brics statement on this was seen as a diplomatic victory for India.

Asked if Modi and Xi discussed fighting terrorism on Tuesday, Jaishankar said that issue did not come up, and that “the counterterrorism issues were largely taken up in the discussions leading to the Brics.”

First Published: Sep 05, 2017 11:40 IST