India's Narendra Modi to meet China's Xi Jinping as ties thaw

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping later this week, as the two cou...

Posted: Apr 23, 2018 1:05 PM
Updated: Apr 23, 2018 1:05 PM

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping later this week, as the two countries strive to mend ties following a turbulent period in cross-border relations.

China's Ministry of Foreign affairs said Xi and Modi would hold an "informal meeting" on April 27 and 28 in the city of Wuhan, in central China.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the visit a "new milestone" Sunday, saying that the two leaders should "cement strategic trust" and "properly settle disputes."

Last year, troops from both countries were involved in a months-long border standoff in Doklam, a Himalayan region near Bhutan. India also boycotted China's flagship summit on its Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious global trade plan.

The Dalai Lama's visit to the northeastern Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh -- a territory China's claims as it's own -- also soured ties between Beijing and New Delhi.

However, the two countries have sought to reboot their relationship since late 2017, when the two reached an apparent resolution in the Doklam border dispute.

Agreements on rivers, pilgrims

India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the two countries had agreed to re-open the Nathu La Pass, a key route for Indian pilgrims to reach Mount Kailash, a holy mountain for Buddhists and Hindus. She also said Beijing and New Delhi will resume sharing data on the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers, crucial to predicting floods in India's northeast.

"The progress made in the last few months has also contributed to building trust and understanding in our bilateral engagement," she said during a visit to Beijing.

Analysts also point to India's recent moves to distance itself from the exiled Tibetan community -- long a sticking point in ties -- as a reflection of Delhi's apparent shift in China policy.

Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, told CNN last month that India is keen to keep ties balanced, especially with China growing closer to rival Pakistan.

"Relations stand at an uneasy place, with India trying to backtrack somewhat and mend fences that were broken in the last two years," he told CNN.

He added China was also seeking progress as it didn't want "India to drift back into the American camp."

Despite the rapprochement, India has been trying to counter China's influence in its backyard, moving to construct a military base in the Seychelles as China expands its reach in the Maldives and in Sri Lanka, where it has taken control of a strategically located port.

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