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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India was working on the objective of ensuring that differences with China do not develop into disputes.

In an interview to CNN-News 18, Modi acknowledged that both India and China had differences.

"On one hand, there is our bilateral relationship with China. We have a political engagement with China, we have investments there, and they have investments here. Our leaders go there, their leaders come here," Modi said. “Amid all this, there are border disputes which are still unresolved. India has one perspective, China has another. So, both sides have accepted that we have differences, but our objective is that these differences don't turn into disputes," Modi said. "And if there are such incidents, then we hold high-level talks. This is a continuous process," he added.

Modi’s comments follow India and China agreeing to stabilize ties rocked by a tense 73-day long standoff on Bhutan’s Doklam area in 2017 at a summit between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan. The standoff was seen as a consequence of differing positions on where the border between the two countries actually lies.

The remarks also come three weeks after China stalled efforts by France, UK and the US to list Maulana Masood Azhar, head of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group, as a terrorist under UN norms. Beijing’s move that came on 14 March, was the fourth time China clocked efforts by countries to penalize Azhar. And it came after the JeM owning responsibility for a suicide bombing on an Indian security convoy in Kashmir, that claimed 40 lives. The attack spiked tensions between India and Pakistan with India bombing a terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area on 26 February and the Pakistani Air Force conducting an aerial raid against Indian military installations in Kashmir in retaliation of 27 February.

Despite China having placed a hold on the Azhar proposal, people familiar with the development in New Delhi said India was cautiously optimistic that China would end its opposition to Azhar’s listing and agree to name him a terrorist under UN rules. One of those cited above said India was willing to deal with China patiently on the matter. This was unlike in the past when New Delhi expressed disappointment at China’s position on Azhar.

In his interview, Modi noted that there was a time India was supported only by Russia on its position on terrorism while the rest of the world was with Pakistan. Now, the situation had changed with only China standing with Pakistan, with the rest of world backing India. “We must understand this change. This is proof of our success," he said.

On being asked whether a boycott of Chinese goods and stopping trade with Beijing was a way to express India’s displeasure with China, Modi said that given that there were international laws in place, India's official stand must align with international rules and regulations. "As far as public sentiment on Chinese goods is concerned, that is up to them. We, including the media, should guide the public," Modi said.

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