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New Delhi: India and China have agreed to develop “a closer developmental partnership" that will be “a core component" of their strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity, said a joint statement released on Friday at the end of a three-day visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to consolidating the strategic partnership “on the basis of the principle of mutual and equal security and mutual sensitivity for each other’s concerns and aspirations," the statement said, adding that India has given in-principle approval for Bank of China to open a branch in Mumbai and that the Asian giants had agreed to hold the first round of dialogue on maritime cooperation.

“Peace and tranquillity on the India-China border areas was recognized as an important guarantor for the development and continued growth of bilateral relations," the statement said. Pending a final resolution of their vexed boundary problem, a legacy of their brief but bitter conflict in 1962, “the two sides would continue to make joint efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas," it said.

Xi, who arrived in India on Wednesday, was given a warm welcome by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who received him in Ahmedabad. Modi personally took Xi on a tour of Sabarmati Ashram where India’s freedom icon Mahatma Gandhi lived for a while, before the two leaders sat down to a quiet private dinner along the Sabarmati riverfront.

On Thursday, the two leaders sat down for formal talks in New Delhi during which they grappled with issues like the unresolved border, boundary incursions earlier this week at Demchok and Chumar in Kashmir’s Ladakh area that have cast a shadow over Xi’s visit, and ways to improve mutual trust and confidence, besides promote trade.

The joint statement released at the end of Xi’s visit on Friday said India and China had “reaffirmed their commitment to abide by the principles and consensus both had agreed to, and further consolidate the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and mutual respect and sensitivities for each other’s concerns and aspirations."

“They agreed that as two large developing and emerging economies, their developmental goals are inter-linked and should be pursued in a mutually supportive manner. Recognizing that their respective growth processes are mutually reinforcing, they agreed to leverage mutual complementarities and build a closer developmental partnership," it said. The two most populous countries in the world “reiterated their willingness to proactively resolve all outstanding differences based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence through friendly negotiation without letting them affect the overall development of bilateral relations," the statement said.

Both countries repeated their commitment to “an early settlement" of their boundary dispute. They “expressed their conviction that this will advance basic interests of the two countries and shall, therefore, be pursued as a strategic objective," the statement said.

To promote mutual confidence, “the two sides decided to strengthen political communication, deepen strategic trust as well as intensify political dialogue and consultations at all levels," the statement said.

India and China also “decided to hold the first round of maritime cooperation dialogue within this year to exchange views on maritime affairs and security, including anti-piracy, freedom of navigation and cooperation between maritime agencies of both countries. They also agreed to hold the consultations on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control at an early date," it said.

Regular exchange of visits between defence ministry officials and military officers to expand cooperation in joint army, naval and air force exercises and strengthening cooperation in peace-keeping, counter-terrorism, naval escort, maritime security and personnel training have been identified as priority to improve mutual trust and confidence.

The two countries decided to explore new areas for broadening their economic cooperation and assigned the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) to look at areas including industrial investment, infrastructure development, energy conservation and environment protection, high-tech industry, clean energy and sustainable urbanization.

“The SED will explore designing joint demonstration projects and initiatives in smart cities. In this regard, it was agreed that a city in each country would be identified for a smart city demonstration project," the statement said.

Both sides agreed to hold the seventh India-China Financial Dialogue in New Delhi this year to increase cooperation between Indian and Chinese financial regulators. “The Indian side approved, in principle, the request of the Bank of China to open a branch in Mumbai, for which the Chinese side expressed its appreciation," the statement said.

“We believe that this visit is of great importance and gives great boost to bilateral ties between the two countries in a new historical era," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing here, outlining the salient features of Xi’s visit to India. “Xi said on border issues, the two sides should continue with friendly coordination and pursue an equitable and fair solution that is acceptable to both the countries," Hong said talking about the Chinese President’s talks with the Indian leadership.

PTI contributed to this story

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