Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said he had an “extremely fruitful meeting” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Bishkek and discussed the full spectrum of bilateral relations as they vowed to work together to improve the economic and cultural ties.
This is the first meeting between the two leaders after Modi’s re-election following the stunning victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the general elections last month.
The meeting also comes a month after the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the powerful UN Security Council designated Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after China lifted its technical hold on the proposal to blacklist him.
“Had an extremely fruitful meeting with President Xi Jinping. Our talks included the full spectrum of India-China relations. We shall continue working together to improve economic and cultural ties between our nations,” Modi tweeted after the delegation-level talks with President Xi.
The meeting began with President Xi congratulating Prime Minister Modi over his election victory.
“After the election results in India, I got your message, and today again you wish me on the victory, I am very grateful to you for this,” Modi replied.
Xi had extended “heartfelt congratulations” to Prime Minister Modi for winning the general elections last month, in a rare gesture of greeting a foreign leader well before the official announcement of the results.
“On behalf of all Indians, I wish you a very happy birthday,” Modi told Xi, greeting the Chinese leader who will turn 66 on June 15.
“As you said, in the days to come, we both can progress on several subjects. We both have a contemporary tenure to work more,” he said.
“After our meeting in Wuhan, we have seen a new momentum and stability in our relations. There has been a rapid progress in the strategic communication between the two sides, leading to be more sensitive towards each other’s concerns and interests. And there has been new areas for further cooperation since then,” Modi told Xi in his opening remarks.
The 2018 Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi was largely credited to have turned around the bilateral relations soured by the 73-day Doklam standoff, triggered by Chinese troops attempts to build a road close to Indian border in an area also claimed by Bhutan in 2017.
After the Wuhan summit, both the countries stepped up efforts to improve relations on different spheres including the military-to-military ties.
The two leaders have met more than 10 times in the last five years, including thrice after their informal summit in Wuhan — first at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit held in June last in China’s Qingdao, the second time at the BRICS summit in South Africa’s Johannesburg in July and third time in December last on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders had a warm meeting. “Leaders discussed all aspects of enriching our bilateral relations and recognised the positive role of strategic communication in deepening our partnership,” Kumar said.
Ahead of the meeting, China hinted that President Xi would highlight the need to forge a united front against US President Donald Trump’s policies of trade protectionism and unilateralism using tariffs as a weapon.
China and the US have been in an escalating conflict over trade for the past year. The scope of the battle has expanded in recent months as Washington has tightened trade restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
Chinese officials hope that India, which is also facing trade frictions with the US specially over termination of its designation as a ‘beneficiary developing country’ under the Generalised System of Preferences, would join the fight against Trump’s protectionist policies.
Prime Minister Modi arrived in the Kyrgyz capital on Thursday for the SCO summit, the first multilateral engagement post his re-election. The SCO is a China-led 8-member economic and security bloc with India and Pakistan being admitted to the grouping in 2017.
The economic and commercial engagement between India and China constitutes a major component of the bilateral relations with bilateral trade which crossed $95 billion last year and is set to cross $100 billion this year.
Last month, the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the powerful UN Security Council designated JeM chief Azhar as a global terrorist after veto-wielding permanent member China lifted its technical hold on the proposal by the US, the UK and France to blacklist him.
It was a huge diplomatic victory for India after a decade of relentless efforts to ban the mastermind of several terror attacks against India, including the deadly Pulwama attack against Indian security forces.
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