Chinese Foreign Minister meets Modi

Wrapping up his two-day visit as the Chinese President’s special envoy, Foreign Minister Wang Yi called India and China “natural partners”, and said both countries “feel each other's development is a foreign policy priority.”

Speaking to the media before returning to Beijing, Mr. Wang, who met President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Adviser Ajit Kumar Doval as well as his counterpart Sushma Swaraj, said the two sides had reached agreements on many points and had discussed all bilateral issues.

Sources said Mr. Wang had a particularly “constructive and cordial” 45-minute meeting with the Prime Minister, who has travelled to China four times as Gujarat Chief Minister. Mr. Wang carried a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom Mr. Modi will meet next month at the BRICS summit in Brazil. “Under your leadership,” Mr. Xi is reported to have conveyed through Mr. Wang, “India will achieve greater development and progress.”

Developing trade and people-to-people ties was the focus of the conversation between Mr. Modi and Mr. Wang as it was during the bilateral talks. “We have reached an agreement on visa facilitation between India and China,” announced Mr. Wang on Monday. He said the two sides had discussed the contentious border issues in detail. He called the joint efforts to maintain peace along the LAC a “hard won achievement”, and expressed the hope that this “question left to us by history” could have a “fair” resolution.

Mr. Wang’s visit and the bonhomie of the visit denotes the NDA government’s desire to balance its relations in the region. Mr. Modi has decided to make his second bilateral foray after Bhutan to Japan, which has very tense relations with China at present. Later this month, India will also host the India-U.S.-Japan trilateral in Delhi that is seen as a counterpoint to the close engagement with Beijing.

During the meeting on Monday, Mr. Modi reportedly referred to the visit of 7th Century traveller Hsuan Tsang’s visit to a Gujarati monastery near Mr. Modi’s hometown near Mehsana, saying, “India and China share strong civilisational contacts and should build on them to enhance understanding of each other.”

That civilisational understanding will be tested against “the question of history” with the border negotiations when the special representatives meet next for the 18th round of talks between India and China.

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