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Modi, Xi talks end without a joint statement

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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Two days talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping ended Saturday without a joint statement. The talks were held in the southern Indian town of Mamallapuram.

Indian media reported that both countries will issue statements on Modi-Xi talks separately.

An official statement from Beijing said Saturday that the two leaders agreed to "promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations."

"Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations to achieve joint development and prosperity," said a statement released by Xinhua, China's official news agency.

The Modi-Xi meeting is aimed at mending ties strained by India's decision to split Jammu & Kashmir state into two. China, which claims part of the area's Ladakh region, is also a close ally of India's rival, Pakistan, according to German News Agency Deutsche Welle.

"Pakistan and India both rule part of the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir but claim it in full. The restive region is a flashpoint between the nuclear-armed archrivals. China, too, has some territorial claims in the area. India has de facto control over about 45% of the region and the majority of its population, while Pakistan controls around 35%. But the remaining 20% is under the control of China," Deutsche Welle said, adding:

China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, referred to informally by some Chinese as "Southern Tibet." India, on the other hand, claims sovereignty over 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of the Aksai Chin plateau. Beijing is also opposed to New Delhi's Kashmir move, especially its decision to carve the Ladakh region out of Jammu and Kashmir state and administer it federally.

Modi and Xi "reiterated their understanding that efforts will continue to be made to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas," according to the Indian statement.

According to Xinhua, Xi said the two countries should seek a boundary solution that is "fair, reasonable and acceptable to both sides".

Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters that both countries had agreed to pursue, through special representatives, an ongoing dialogue on their disputed border. China and India have held more than 20 rounds of talks to resolve their boundary dispute, over which they went to war in 1962. Different mechanisms have been set up to maintain peace along the 4,000-kilometre (2,485-mile) so-called Line of Actual Control.

Gokhale claimed that Modi and Xi who met for a total of seven hours over Friday and Saturday, with the bulk of their time spent in one-on-one talks did not discuss Kashmir, a region that is currently divided between India and Pakistan but which both nuclear-armed rivals claim in full.

Visit to Nepal

From India Xi flew to Nepal for a one-day stopover on his way home, a country that India has traditionally considered within its sphere of influence. China is working for a greater share of Nepal's infrastructure projects.

Two years ago Nepal joined China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is opposed by India as well as the US and the Western countries.

More than 120 countries have signed on to the BRI, including Pakistan, where a series of projects worth US$46 billion are being constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India has snubbed the BRI and questioned the transparency of funding agreements.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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