PM meets Chinese President

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 28, 2013 00:07 hrs

Durban: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margin of the BRICS Summit here, in the first structured high-level contact between the two countries since the change of leadership in China.

The bilateral meeting between Singh and Xi late here tonight took place on the sidelines of the BRICS countries Summit which the two leaders attended.

Ahead of the bilateral meet, the two leaders had met informally during the Summit when Xi told the PM that he was aware of his (Singh's) good relationship with Xi's immediate predecessor Hu Jintao and former Prime Minister Wei and would like to continue the relationship.

Xi last week had warm words about the relationship with India and said he was looking forward to the meeting with Singh. 

Ahead of the meting between Prime Minister Singh and President Xi, India sent clear signals of reciprocating China's new leadership's desire to improve ties without it being held hostage by problems like the boundary issue.

Official sources said India will not allow the bilateral ties to be held hostage by differences on the boundary issue, echoing the views of new President Xi last week.

"We think we can be positive. We talk to each other about mutual concerns. We have managed to show that despite differences, China is India's single largest bilateral trade partner and are sure we have the ability to work together," they had said.

They point out to the fact that the two countries last year decided to have a military dialogue. The two sides have also decided not to hurt each other's interests in the region.

Xi had last week propounded five proposals for improving bilateral ties with India. These included keeping aside differences on various issues while improving mutual ties and accommodation of each other's concerns while dealing with "core interests".

He had also suggested that peace and tranquility should be maintained on the boundary pending settlement of the issue.

Asked about the Chinese leadership using new phrases like "core interests", the sources said India's core interests in the relationship were open and transparent.

"Let them have a conversation. We don't have to pre-judge. We will analyse before we come out with a balance sheet of mutual concerns," they said.

On Xi's statement that the boundary question would not be easy to resolve, the sources said India had always held that solution will take time.

"We never said it is going to be solved easily," the officials said.

India always felt that the two countries should get on with improvement in rest of the areas like trade and build on positive areas.

"Don't make relations hostage to one issue (boundary)," they said.

The officials said the signals for India from the new Chinese leadership have been positive, including the various contacts New Delhi had with Beijing since when the leadership change process began in China.

The meeting Between Singh and Xi is expected to provide an impetus to bilateral relationship besides being a platform to take stock of things and go forward in the relationship.

They said some of the issues with China were there for over 20 years. This included Chinese investment in Gwadar port in Pakistan or building of dams on Brahmaputra river and the building Of Chinese nuclear reactors in Chashma power project in Pakistan.

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