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India asks China to be sensitive to its concerns as crucial bilateral talks begin

The Indian foreign secretary is visiting Beijing days ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), which India will skip because of concerns over territorial sovereignty related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

india Updated: Apr 22, 2019 12:03 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
India China bilateral ties,India China ties,Belt and Road Forum
India and China need to be sensitive to each other’s concerns, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale has told Chinese state councilor and foreign minister, Wang Yi, at the beginning of crucial bilateral talks in Beijing on Monday. (HT File Photo)

India and China need to be sensitive to each other’s concerns, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale has told Chinese state councilor and foreign minister, Wang Yi, at the beginning of crucial bilateral talks in Beijing on Monday

The talks are taking place at a time when prickly differences have emerged in bilateral ties despite the bonhomie generated during the informal summit between Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at the central Chinese city of Wuhan a year ago.

Key issues such as coordinating the positions of the two sides at international forums and the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist are on the agenda of the visit.

The Indian foreign secretary is visiting Beijing days ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), which India will skip because of concerns over territorial sovereignty related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Gokhale, who earlier served as the envoy to Beijing, will have a day-long meeting on Monday with vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou after his call-on with foreign minister, Wang. “It is one year since our leaders met at Wuhan. My colleague Kong Xuanyou and I are following on efforts to see that to implement many of the understandings reached at that meeting,” Gokhale said in his opening remarks during his meeting with Wang.

“Last year we had brisk political exchanges. You Excellency had visited New Delhi for the first meeting of people to people exchange mechanism which is very important; our external affairs minister looking forward to coming to China this year,” he said.

“As you said we will work together with the Chinese side to deepen understanding to strengthen trust to implement the decisions that were taken by leaders and to do it in a manner in which we are sensitive to each other’s concerns,” he said.

Wang said there was need to increase strategic communication between the two countries. “You have come back to Beijing for yet another diplomatic mission. China and India are two emerging market countries and also neighbours,” Wang said in his opening remarks.

“As each other’s strategic partners, it is important for the two countries to work together to increase strategic communication, deepen mutual political trust and strengthen strategic cooperation on international and regional issues. Given that it is important to have regular consultations with China,” Wang added.

In addition to talks aimed at maintaining momentum in bilateral ties in the wake of last year’s informal Wuhan summit, Gokhale is expected to discuss coordinating India and China’s positions on key global issues at forums such as the G20 Summit to be held in Tokyo in June.

Xi is expected to meet the Indian Prime Minister on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. The Chinese side is also keenly looking forward to the second informal summit, which will be held in India sometime after the general elections.

Beijing is currently preparing to host the three-day BRF from April 25, which will be attended by nearly 40 heads of state and government. India and Bhutan are among the countries that will not attend the forum. New Delhi had also boycotted the first edition of the forum in 2017.

India has repeatedly expressed concerns about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), largely because of CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and the uneven playing field created by China for Xi’s flagship connectivity project.

First Published: Apr 22, 2019 11:25 IST