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Modi, Xi focus on trade, investment

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping holding talks, at Fisherman's Cove in Kovalam near Mamallapuram, on Saturday. – PTI
 MAMALLAPURAM, Oct 12 - India and China on Saturday resolved to start a new chapter of cooperation while prudently managing their differences as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to set up a ministerial-level mechanism to boost trade and investment and work towards deepening defence and security ties during their second informal summit in this ancient coastal town.

Among the significant outcomes of their nearly seven-hour one-on-one talks over two days were China’s assurance to address India’s concerns on ballooning trade deficit and on negotiations for the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), work on additional confidence building measures and agreement on consolidating strategic communication to enhance mutual trust between militaries of the two countries to maintain peace on border.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, addressing a press conference at the end of the summit, said the Kashmir issue was not raised or discussed during the deliberations, but said the Chinese leader briefed Modi about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing earlier in the week.

“The two leaders had an in-depth exchange of views in a friendly atmosphere on overarching, long-term and strategic issues of global and regional importance,” Gokhale said, at the end of Xi’s nearly 24-hour visit.

A new era of cooperation will start between India and China on Saturday with the ‘Chennai Connect’, Prime Minister Modi said in his remarks at the delegation-level talks after a 90-minute one-on-one conversation with Xi in a luxury resort overlooking the Bay of Bengal.

Xi said their “candid”, “heart-to-heart” discussions on bilateral relations were “in-depth” and “good”, noting that maintaining and expanding the Sino-India relations is a firm policy of his government.

“The Wuhan Spirit gave a new momentum and trust to our relations. Today, our Chennai Connect will lead to the start of a new era of cooperation between the two countries,” Modi said, referring to the outcome arrived at the first informal summit between the two leaders at the Chinese city in April last year.

Modi said the Wuhan summit led to increased stability and fresh momentum in Sino-India relations as strategic communication increased between the two sides.

“We had decided that we will prudently manage our differences, and not allow them to become disputes; we will remain sensitive about each other’s concerns and that our relations will lead to peace and stability across the world. These are our big achievements and these will inspire us to do more in future,” Modi said.

The PM also said India and China were global economic powers during most of the last 2000 years and are returning to that stage gradually.

On his part, Xi said the first informal summit continues to produce visible progress.

“We have deeper strategic communication, more effective practical cooperation, more diverse people-to-people and cultural exchanges and we have closer cooperation on multilateral occasions. What has happened has proved that we made the right decision to have this kind of informal summit and we can well continue with this form of meeting,” the Chinese leader said.

President Xi invited Modi to visit China for the third informal summit and Modi has accepted the invitation. – PTI

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