Xi, Modi talk trust, border issues with eye on trade

14 May 2015


Prime Minister Narendra Modi today began a three-day visit to China from the province of Shaanxi, in the heart of central China and the hometown of Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom he held ''very substantive'' discussions focusing on strengthening mutual trust and the boundary issue.

Both President Xi and Prime Minister Modi focused on boosting economic ties between the two Asian giants despite decades of mistrust.

It was the first time Xi had invited a foreign leader to his father's home province of Shaanxi - a signal that the two want to set aside suspicions over a festering border issue to sign billions in trade deals.

Modi made his first foreign visit as prime minister to Beijing and Xi had reciprocated that visit with a trip to India in September, when Modi took Xi to his home state of Gujarat.

Modi is looking to clinch $10 billion worth of deals, a leading Chinese media reported today.

China is a huge market as far as India is concerned, but a difficult one as well, and remains totally under-exploited.

Modi posed for photos near a pit of 2,000-year-old terracotta warrior sculptures in the historic northwestern city of Xian and handed over a sapling of the Bodhi tree while China offered to fulfill Modi's vision of a modern train system in India.

PM Modi presented Chinese President Xi Jinping replicas of a stone casket of Buddhist relics and a stone statue of Buddha.

Foreign secretary S Jaishankar said the two discussed boundary and water issues during bilateral meet. They also discussed connectivity issues.

Besides, there was a discussion on strengthening trust and increasing convergence, says Jaishankar, adding that trade deficit and investment climate were also discussed.

Talking to reporters, Jaishankar said PM Modi and the Chinese leader held wide-ranging and detailed talks, adding that the discussions were very substantive.

The two sides agreed to speed up work on rail links in India, as China seeks to cash in on Modi's infrastructure push.

The two leaders also visited a pagoda connected to Xuanzang, also known as Tripitaka, the monk who brought the Buddhist sutras to China from India thousands of years ago, a spokesman for India's ministry of external affairs said via his Twitter account. Modi was given a figurine of Xuanzang.

The festering border dispute as well as recent forays by China's navy into the Indian Ocean, however, have now been overshadowed by China's plans to invest $46 billion in infrastructure development in Pakistan, including in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Modi will travel to Beijing tomorrow, when he will meet Premier Li Keqiang. He will visit the economic powerhouse of Shanghai after that to meet business leaders.

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