India and China on Friday firmly resolved not to allow bilateral differences to become disputes and address each other’s concerns very seriously.
At a bilateral meeting in Astana on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed the view that every effort should be made by their two countries to appropriately manage their differences and convert them into opportunities.
The half--hour meeting, at which the two leaders were assisted by their key aides, was very cordial and positive, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told the media, adding that Modi thanked Xi for supporting India’s accession to the SCO grouping.
The broad thrust of the meeting was that at a time of global uncertainty, India-China relations were a factor of stability and it was important for the two countries to work together. The two leaders acknowledged that there were bound to be differences between India and China since they were two big nations but felt that the two sides should seek to settle those differences and find common ground.
Friday’s meeting came amid growing tension in bilateral ties over a host of issues, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and India's bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). India had boycotted the One Belt One Road (OBOR) Forum, hosted by China last month in protest against the CPEC since this flagship project of the OBOR initiative runs through the Indian territory in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Jaishankar said a number of issues came up for discussion, including economic cooperation, trade and investment, connectivity, establishment of industrial parks and cooperation in railways. The two leaders also discussed security and defence matters, including counter-terrorism and security cooperation and military exercises.
Exchange of delegations, particularly parliamentarians, youth and journalists in the context of people-to-people contacts also was discussed. Xi spoke about the increasing popularity of Indian films, particularly the Aamir Khan-starrer ‘Dangal’, in his country.
He told Modi that he had, in fact, himself seen the film recently. Connectivity was another area that was taken up by the two leaders. In this context, they discussed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Bangladesh China India Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor.
Both Modi and Xi felt that there should be more frequent occasions for the two sides to meet, including at the leadership level.
Asked if India raised the issue of its NSG membership or China’s repeated stonewalling of New Delhi’s attempt to get JeM chief Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council, Jaishankar said the meeting broadly reviewed the relationship as is the practice when top leaders of two nations meet.