After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a brief conversation as they shared the stage in South Africa during the BRICS summit, China’s foreign ministry said the two leaders had a “candid and in-depth exchange of views” on the current relations between the two countries.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a statement on Thursday night said, “President Xi Jinping talked with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit at the latter’s request on August 23, 2023.”
“The two leaders had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on current China-India relations and other questions of shared interest. President Xi stressed that improving China-India relations serves the common interests of the two countries and peoples, and is also conducive to peace, stability, and development of the world and the region,” the statement read on the Chinese foreign ministry’s official website.
It added, “The two sides should bear in mind the overall interests of their bilateral relations and handle properly the border issue so as to jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border region.”
The interaction came amid strained relations between the two countries since the Indian and Chinese armies clashed at Galwan Valley in 2020. The two leaders spoke for the first time after the meeting at the G20 dinner in Bali last November.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, India’s foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra in a briefing said Modi, while speaking to Xi, highlighted India’s concerns on the unresolved issues along the LAC.
“The prime minister underlined that the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas, and observing and respecting the LAC are essential for the normalisation of the India-China relationship,” Kwatra said.
He added, “In this regard, two leaders agreed to direct relevant officials to intensify efforts at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation.”
Tensions between India and China
India-China ties nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that led to the death of several soldiers. The clash has been marked as the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades. Since then, both countries have held military-level talks to resolve the border issues.
Recently, the two armies held the 19th round of corps commander-level talks. According to a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs, the two sides “agreed to resolve the remaining issues in an expeditious manner and maintain the momentum of dialogue and negotiations through military and diplomatic channels” during the talks.
“In the interim, the two sides agreed to maintain the peace and tranquility on the ground in the border areas,” the statement added.