Press Trust of india

India, China offer differing views on which side sought Modi-Xi conversation

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New Delhi: Two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a conversation in Johannesburg, India and China on Friday offered divergent views on which side sought the engagement with Indian sources saying that a Chinese request for a bilateral meeting is pending.

Prime Minister Modi and President Xi held the conversation on Wednesday on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in Johannesburg.

The conversation was not a structured bilateral meeting and was an informal one.

There was a pending request from the Chinese side for a bilateral meeting, sources in the Indian side said hours after the Chinese foreign ministry released a readout on the Modi-Xi conversation that said it was held at the Indian side’s request.

“The two leaders, however, had an informal conversation in the leaders lounge during the BRICS summit,” said a source.

The Chinese readout said: “President Xi Jinping talked with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit at the latter’s request on August 23.”

In his conversation with Modi, Xi stressed that improving China-India relations serves common interests and it is conducive to peace and stability of the world and the region, it said.

India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Thursday said Modi conveyed to Xi India’s concerns on the “unresolved” issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, underlining that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas was essential for normalisation of India-China ties.

The Chinese readout described the conversation between the two leaders on Wednesday as “candid and in-depth”

“On August 23, President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on current China-India relations and other questions of shared interest on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit,” it said.

“President Xi stressed that improving China-India relations serves common interests of the two countries and peoples, and is also conducive to peace, stability and development of the world and the region,” it said.

“The two sides should bear in mind the overall interests of their bilateral relations and handle properly the border issue so as to jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border region,” the statement released by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi said.

At a media briefing in Johannesburg, Kwatra said the two leaders agreed to direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts at “expeditious disengagement and de-escalation”.

“On the sidelines of the BRICS summit, the prime minister had interactions with other BRICS leaders. In a conversation with President Xi Jinping of China, the prime minister highlighted India’s concerns on unresolved issues along the LAC in the Western Sector of the India-China border areas,” Kwatra said.

“The prime minister underlined that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and observing and respecting the LAC are essential for the normalisation of the India-China relationship,” the foreign secretary said.

“In this regard, two leaders agreed to direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation,” Kwatra added.

The government refers to the eastern Ladakh region as Western Sector.

It was their first interaction in public after their brief encounter on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali in November last year.

The two leaders met briefly at a formal dinner hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo on November 16.

The ties between India and China came under severe strain following the eastern Ladakh border row that began in May, 2020.

The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an over three-year confrontation in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.

India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the LAC were key for normalisation of overall ties.

“That we have gotten to a place where we have a party in power that will use any charge in any jurisdiction — four at the same time — in the middle of an election, designed, mark my words, to stop their lead political rival currently from running,” he said.

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