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India-China talks cannot make progress if they don’t empathise with each other’s interests: Bambawale

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Beijing, May 9 :  Calling for the resumption of talks between top military commanders of India and China, Indian envoy here said today the dialogue between both countries cannot make much progress if they do not “empathise” with each other’s aspirations and interests.

In his first remarks after the unprecedented informal summit at Wuhan between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month, Ambassador Gautam Bambawale said, “I would like to see a resumption of military exchanges between India and China as well as strategic communication between our top military commanders”.

“This will be good for maintaining peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas,” he told the 8th India-China dialogue between Ananta Aspen Centre (AAC) and China Reform Forum (CRF).

His comments followed Modi and Xi issuing “strategic guidance” to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual understanding and enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs at the Wuhan summit.

While emphasising the importance of the significance of candid talks at all levels, Bambawale significantly observed that dialogue cannot make progress without the two sides empathising with each other’s sensitivities and interests.

“An important principle in India-China relations is the necessity of being sensitive to the other country’s aspirations and interests,” Bambawale said.

“In the absence of such sensitivity, we may talk to each other but little progress will be made if we do not empathise with the other side’s point of view,” he said.

“I hope that such sensitivity will also be displayed in your discussions today. This is an important pre-requisite for moving forward in our bilateral ties,” he said, pointing out that that delegations at today’s talks between AAC and CRF have “retired defence personnel in their composition”.

The dialogue between the two organisations was not held last year apparently due to the Dokalam standoff.

Referring to the Wuhan summit between Modi and Xi, he said, “both leaders spoke freely and frankly to each other on strategic and over-arching issues pertaining to the international and regional situations as well as on India-China relations”.

The summit on April 27-28 was seen as an effort by India and China to rebuild trust and improve ties that were hit by the 73-day-long Dokalam standoff.

The summit was one such example of engagement at the apex level, Bambawale said.

“I have always maintained that if India and China have to live and progress together, especially in the 21st Century, it is essential that we engage with each other seriously and talk to each other extremely frankly and candidly,” he said.

He said at the Wuhan summit both the leaders concluded that there are many factors of commonality between India and China and that they need to expand on such convergences.

“Naturally, like any two countries, there are also differences between us. We can only resolve these differences, over time, if we speak to each other about them in an open manner,” he said.

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