Modi-Xi meeting in Astana: PM calls for respecting each other’s core concerns

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Astana: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday amid strains in bilateral ties over a host of issues including Beijing blocking New Delhi’s bid to join the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

During the meeting, Modi said the two sides should tap the potential in cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination in international affairs, respect each other’s core concerns, and appropriately handle their disputes, news agency Press Trust of India said.

Modi met Xi in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar later told reporters that the meeting between the two leaders was “cordial and positive”.

“At a time of global uncertainties, India and China relations are a force of stability,” he said after the talks.

It was also felt that as “the world becomes more multipolar it was important for India and China to work together more closely”, said Jaishankar.

At the SCO summit, India and Pakistan formally joined the security bloc spearheaded by China and Russia, according to an AFP report.

On his part, Xi told Modi that the two sides should increase communication and coordination in multilateral affairs, and appropriately control and handle disputes and problems, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing that both countries “should also address sensitive and major issues”.

“India should focus more (on) cooperation and work alongside to provide assistance to each other’s developmental goals. The two sides should strengthen the complementarities of development strategies and press ahead with the major cooperation projects such as energy and railways,” she said.

Hua also said the two sides should press ahead on the Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor. BCIM is part of China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

According to Jaishankar, it was agreed that “where we (India and China) have differences it was important that differences should not become disputes and that in fact if they were handled well, they may even be opportunities”.

“You should be rest assured that there was a sense that both sides should address their concerns sincerely,” he said.

The Chinese president called for more high-level interactions, institutionalized exchanges, strategic communication and policy alignment between the two countries, Xinhua reported.

Xi said China and India should boost trade and investment cooperation, and work together for earlier harvest from large-scale cooperation projects in such areas as production capability, industrial parks and railway construction,

The Modi-Xi meeting comes almost a month after India declined an invitation to a summit of BRI hosted by Beijing.

India’s objection was mainly to the fact that one strand of BRI—the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor—cuts through Gilgit and Baltistan, which India says are illegally occupied by Pakistan and hence BRI violates India’s sovereignty.

India has also been upset by China’s trenchant opposition to it joining NSG. China says that since India is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, it cannot become a member of NSG, which sets the rules for global nuclear commerce.

The group admits members by consensus, which means India needs Chinese support to enter the grouping.

India was granted an NSG waiver in 2008 that allows it to engage in nuclear commerce, but deprives it of a vote in the organization’s decision-making.

India and China also have differences over Chinese attempts to block India’s efforts to get Pakistan-based terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar included in a UN list of proscribed international terrorists.