Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Kazakhstan capital Astana. Modi held cordial talks with Jinping amid tensions between the two countries over a number of issues including China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) and underscored the need to respect each other’s core concerns and appropriately handle the disputes. The two ministers are meeting for the first time after India boycotted the high-profile Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing last month in which 29 world leaders took part.
PM Modi said, “The two sides should tap their potential in cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination in international affairs, respect each other’s core concerns and appropriately handle their disputes.” Expressing his appreciation to China for India’s accession to the SCO, PM Modi said his country will work closely with China in the organisation. “It would not have been possible for India to become a member of SCO without China’s backing”, he added.
India and Pakistan became full members of the SCO on Friday. India’s membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan’s entry into the grouping was backed by China.
Describing the meeting between Modi and Jinping as cordial and very positive, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said, “There was an understanding that where we have differences, it is important that differences should not become dispute.”
Asked whether the NSG, OBOR and Azhar issues were raised, Jaishankar did not give a direct reply and said the meeting was for taking a broad assessment of the relationship. He said, “You should be rest assured that there was a sense that both sides should address their concerns sincerely. Both the countries may have differences, but it is important to find “common grounds” and address each other’s concerns “with a degree of seriousness”.
Giving broad outcome of the meeting, Jaishankar said India and China are factors of stability when the world is going through economic uncertainty. He said Modi and Xi also deliberated on defence exchanges and issues relating to trade and investment were a major highlight.”Entire spectrum of bilateral cooperation was discussed,” said Jaishankar.
Xi also congratulated India on becoming official member of the SCO, according to the news agency PTI. Xi said, “We hope that the two countries will work together to ensure the development of the SCO. The SCO is a security grouping increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO. Faced with profound and complex changes of the international situation, China and India, as the world’s two largest developing countries, should pay more attention to cooperation and go ahead with each other as partners, so as to instill more momentum into each other’s development and contribute to world peace, stability and common development.”
During the meeting, Xi told Modi that the two sides should increase communication and coordination in multilateral affairs and appropriately control and handle disputes and sensitive problems, according to the China’s official Xinhua news agency. Xi said China attaches great importance to its ties with India. He called for more high-level interactions, institutionalised exchanges, strategic communication and policy alignment between the two countries, Xinhua reported.
The Chinese President said, “China and India should also 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.”
He further said that his country is willing to cooperate with India within the SCO framework and contribute to the healthy and sustained development of the organisation.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing that both the countries “should also address sensitive and major issues” as she highlighted the issues figured in the meeting.
“India should focus more cooperation and work alongside to provide assistance to each other’s developmental goals. The two sides should strengthen the complementarities of the development strategies and press ahead with the major cooperation projects such as energy and railways,” Hua said. She also said the two sides should press ahead in a major way on Bangladesh, China, India Myanmar Corridor (BCIM) besides tourism, culture and other relevant fields.
BCIM is part of the China’s multi-billion dollar Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
After Astana, Modi and Xi are also expected to cross paths at the G20 summit to be held next month in Hamburg, Germany followed by Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) summit to be held in Xiamen, China in September.