New Delhi/Qingdao (China): India and China will hold the 21st round of talks on the unsettled boundary—seen as the cause of a tense military face off between the two countries last year—in the second half of this year.
The two countries will also hold a dialogue of their defence and Home ministers and have set a target of $100 billion in trade by the year 2020.
These were some of the outcomes of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Qingdao on Saturday ahead of a China and Russia led Eurasian grouping—the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation—on Sunday.
The two leaders, meeting for a second time in six weeks, also announced a meeting of their foreign ministers later this year to enhance people to people exchanges, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters after the talks.
To boost economic and commercial linkages, the two countries are looking at sugar and non-basmati rice exports by India to China, Gokhale said. Indian pharmaceuticals are another potential item of export to China, he said. India will also be allowing Bank of China to open a branch in Mumbai, Gokhale said.
The two leaders also decided to set up a new mechanism for people-to-people cooperation to build on the momentum in bilateral ties from their unprecedented informal summit in Wuhan nearly six weeks back.
The meeting took place ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit and covered key aspects of the bilateral engagement, reflecting the resolve by the two countries to reset relations and bring back trust in their ties, hit by the Doklam standoff and several other thorny issues.
“Met this year’s SCO host, President Xi Jinping this evening. We had detailed discussions on bilateral and global issues. Our talks will add further vigour to the India-China friendship," Modi tweeted after the meeting.
The foreign secretary said one of the important outcomes of Saturday’s meeting was that the Chinese side accepted prime minister’s invitation to President Xi to come to India for an informal summit next year, similar to the one held by the two leaders in Wuhan on 27-28 April.
Xi conveyed to the Indian side that China’s defence minister and minister of public security, who is equivalent to India’s home minister, will visit New Delhi this year.
Sharing some aspects of the nearly 50-minute meeting, the foreign secretary said Xi described the Wuhan summit as a “new starting point" in bilateral relations between the two countries while prime minister called it as a “milestone" in ties which will help in developing mutual understanding and trust.
Gokhale said the meeting had a “very positive forward looking momentum" which was underpinned by spirit of the Wuhan summit.
“It was a very substantive meeting. And both leaders made very positive assessment of the Wuhan summit," he said, adding both the leaders agreed to keep open the strategic communication.
The two leaders also deliberated on initiating a joint project in Afghanistan which will be in the sphere of capacity building.
President Xi said their Wuhan meeting had been well received by both countries and the international community, and a positive atmosphere is taking shape to pay close attention to and support the development of China-India relations.
Talking about the outcome of the meeting, Gokhale said both the sides agreed to set up a new people to people mechanism to enhance cooperation in several areas such as art and culture.
“On the Indian side, it will be headed by the external affairs minister (Sushma Swaraj) while on Chinese side, it will be headed by state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi.
The first meeting of this mechanism will be held this year," he said. In this context, Xi also referred to growing popularity of Indian films in China and particularly mentioned about films Dangal and Bahubali.
The two leaders covered issues relating to peace and tranquility along the boundary and agreed that militaries on the two sides will continue to talk to each other to maintain peace, said Gokhale calling the meeting “very positive and forward looking".
After talks between the two leaders, the two sides inked an MoU on sharing hydrological information of the Brahmaputra River by China to India and another pact to facilitate export of non-Basmati rice from India to China.
He said next round of special representative-level talks on boundary question will be held during second half of this year.
At the meeting, the Chinese side also agreed to import high-quality agricultural products from India and said they will also allow Indian pharmaceutical products in Chinese market.
These moves are seen as attempts by India and China to bring ties back on an even keel after the 73-day-long tense military standoff between India and China last year over their unsettled boundary dispute.