NEW DELHI – Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Saturday said the Kashmir issue was not raised or discussed during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting in the Tamil Nadu town of Mamallapuram. However, the Chinese leader briefed Modi about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing earlier in the week.
Addressing a press conference at the end of the summit, Gokhale said India and China on Saturday resolved to start a new chapter of cooperation while prudently managing their differences, as Modi and Chinese Xi discussed several key issues, including ways to enhance trade and investment and confidence building measures, during their nearly seven-hour one-on-one talks spread over two days in the ancient coastal town.
The significant outcome of the second Modi-Xi informal summit included setting up of a new high-level mechanism to boost trade and investment, China’s assurance to address India’s concerns in negotiations for the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), security cooperation and additional confidence building measures to main peace on border.
“The two leaders had an in-depth exchange of views in a friendly atmosphere on overarching, long-term and strategic issues of global and regional importance,” Gokhale said, at the end of Xi’s nearly 24-hour visit.
Asked whether cross-border terrorism was discussed in the meeting, the foreign secretary only said that India-China ties are not a one-issue relationship.
Developments preceding the summit have not been altogether conducive. Beijing hosted Pakistan PM Imran Khan, his third visit to China since August, just before Xi left for India. The Chinese President told Khan that Beijing was “paying close attention to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir” and “the facts are clear”. China riled India further as it said the two neighbours must resolve Kashmir dispute based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.
New Delhi responded sharply stating J&K is an integral part of India, and it was “not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India.” What is more, Xi is slated to visit Nepal after concluding his India visit on Saturday evening.
Soon after his arrival on Friday afternoon, Xi was taken for a guided tour by Modi of the famous world heritage sites of Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna’s Butterball, the Pancha Ratha and Shore temple in this ancient temple town, kicking off the second informal summit between the two leaders.
Analysts in New Delhi said, If New Delhi hopes to convince Beijing to see the Kashmir issue from India’s perspective, China, on the other hand, wants greater access of its products into India, especially now in the context of its tension with the US on trade.
A new era of cooperation will start between India and China on Saturday with the “Chennai Connect”, Prime Minister Modi said in his remarks at the delegation level talks after a 90-minute one-on-one conversation with Xi in a luxury resort overlooking the Bay of Bengal.
Xi said their “candid”, “heart-to-heart” discussions on bilateral relations were “in-depth” and “good”, noting that maintaining and expanding the Sino-India relations is a firm policy of his government.
“The Wuhan spirit gave a new momentum and trust to our relations. Today, our Chennai Connect will lead to the start of a new era of cooperation between the two countries,” Modi said, referring to outcome arrived at the first informal summit between the two leaders at the Chinese city in April last year.
Modi said the Wuhan summit led to increased stability and fresh momentum in Sino-India relations as strategic communication increased between the two sides.
“We had decided that we will prudently manage our differences, and not allow them to become disputes, we will remain sensitive about each other’s concerns and that our relations will lead to peace and stability across the world. These are our big achievements and these will inspire us to do more in future,” Modi said.
The PM also said India and China were global economic powers during most of the last 2000 years and were returning to stage gradually. On his part, Xi said the first informal summit continues to produce visible progress.
“We have deeper strategic communication, more effective practical cooperation, more diverse people-to-people and cultural exchanges and we have closer cooperation on multilateral occasions. What has happened has proved that we made the right decision to have this kind of informal summit and we can well continue with this form of meeting,” the Chinese leader said.
President Xi invited Modi to visit China for the third informal summit and Modi has accepted the invitation. Giving an account of outcome of the summit, Gokhale said the two leaders were concerned that terrorism continues to pose a common threat.
They recognized the importance of continued joint efforts to ensure that the international community strengthens the framework against training, financing and supporting terrorist groups throughout the world and on a non-discriminatory basis.
On the vexed boundary issue, Gokhale said both sides will continue to work on additional confidence building measures to enhance peace and tranquillity along the border.
The two leaders have also decided to establish a high-level economic and trade dialogue mechanism with the objective of achieving enhanced trade and commercial relations, as well as to better balance the trade between the two countries, he said.
“Both leaders shared the view that the international situation is witnessing significant readjustment. They were of the view that India and China share the common objective of working for a peaceful, secure and prosperous world in which all countries can pursue their development within a rules-based international order,” said a press release featuring 16 important outcomes.
Sources said the Indian and Chinese sides exchanged the texts of their release before issuing them. The two leaders reiterated the consensus reached during the first Informal Summit in Wuhan that India and China are factors for stability in the current international landscape and that both side will prudently manage their differences and not allow differences on any issue to become disputes, the release said.
He said the two leaders exchanged views on outstanding issues, including on the boundary question and welcomed the work of the Special Representatives engaged in negotiations on the issue.
Modi and Xi held a 90-minute meeting at the Taj’s Fisherman’s Cove resort on Saturday and took a stroll along the beach front. It was followed by delegation-level talks.
Earlier, Modi and Xi came together to the venue in a golf cart. On Friday, Modi and Xi held a total of four-and-half-hour ?open and cordial? one-on-one discussion including over dinner.
The Boeing 747-Air China, carrying Chinese President along with a 90-member delegation, landed at Chennai Airport at 2 pm. The delegation comprises senior members of the Communist Party of China, foreign minister Wang Yi and others.
After a brief stopover, the Chinese President drove to Mamallapuram, 56 km from Chennai. Normal traffic was stopped in the IT corridor through which he travelled. Educational institutions and shops and other commercial establishments were closed for the day.
Xi drove in a Hongqi, a Chinese luxury car 18 feet long, 6.5 feet wide and 5 feet tall, which weighs 3,152 kg. Hongqi literally means “red flag”. He arrived at Mamallapuram at 5 pm. and Prime Minister Modi received him and shook hands in front of the Arjuna’s Penance, a monolithic monument in the historic location.
Modi, who tweeted in Chinese and Tamil too, appeared in traditional Tamilian dress of white dhoti, white shirt and an angavasthram.
Meanwhile, the Indian embassy in Beijing has announced a five-year tourist e-visa with multiple entry facility for Chinese travellers, coinciding with President Xi’s visit.
“It is anticipated that this unilateral liberalisation of e-TV for Chinese nationals will further enhance people-to-people exchanges between the two countries and encourage more Chinese tourists to choose India as a destination for tourism purposes,” the embassy said in a press release.