India, China spar over who requested for Modi, Xi meeting

Indian officials refuted Chinese authorities’ claim that Modi-Jinping meeting was organized at New Delhi’s request

NEW DELHI | Updated: 25 August, 2023 5:37 pm IST
PM Modi and China's Xi Jinping talk at BRICS meet.

NEW DELHI: Amid continuing border standoff, a new flashpoint has emerged in the bilateral relations between India and China as the two Asian giants contradicted each other over who requested for a meeting between their premiers on the sidelines of BRICS Summit in South Africa this week.

Hours after their conversation, the Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday told reporters that the meeting was arranged on the request of Indian authorities, official sources in New Delhi suggested otherwise.

“There was a pending request from the Chinese side for a bilateral meeting,” sources in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said.

China had earlier said: “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. 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.”

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During the summit, the two leaders had an informal conversation in the Leaders’ Lounge. The sources emphasized that this conversation did not constitute a formal bilateral meeting and was instead a casual encounter.

PM Modi and President Jinping discussed the ongoing border dispute and agreed to expedite the resolution process.

“The Prime Minister underlined that maintaining peace and tranquility in the border areas and adhering to and respecting the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are crucial for normalizing the India-China relationship,” as per foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra.

He further said: “While interacting with other BRICS leaders on the sidelines of the summit, the Prime Minister also discussed India’s concerns over unresolved matters along the Western sector of the India-China border.”

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India and China have failed to find a complete resolution of the border dispute which started in May 2020 despite holding 19 rounds of corps commander level meetings.

After the last military meeting held on August 13-14, they acknowledged that they engaged in a constructive and profound conversation on the resolution of pending issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector.

“In line with the guidance provided by the leadership, they exchanged views in an open and forward-looking manner. They agreed to expedite the resolution of remaining issues and sustain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations through both military and diplomatic channels. In the interim, both sides consented to maintaining peace and tranquility along the border areas.”

India officials have maintained that bilateral relations with China can’t progress without the return of peace and tranquility in the border areas.

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