Before the structured meeting with Mr. Xi in Durban, both leaders exchanged notes earlier on the sidelines of the BRICS events. They agreed to continue with the intensity of exchanges witnessed during the tenure of Hu Jintao as President and Wen Jiabao as Premier. The Prime Minister had met Mr. Wen nine times, the last time on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Cambodia.
Apart from talks on a joint mechanism to monitor dam construction on the Brahmaputra, both leaders reviewed the entire palette of ties including the issue of coordinating their positions on third-country and international issues, as well as harmonising their stand at regional and multilateral fora.
“I got a distinct impression that the new Chinese leadership is as serious as the earlier Chinese leadership to promote good neighbourly relations and to find practical, pragmatic solutions to outstanding issues between our two countries,” said the Prime Minister.
They also agreed that high-level visits will be exchanged this year. According to official sources, the first major visit could be by Defence Minister A. K. Antony to Beijing.
While India has been demanding the dam mechanism as a lower riparian country for Brahmaputra, Bangladesh, as a lower riparian country, has been asking India for a monitoring or consultative mechanism for the region’s entire basin of rivers so that it includes other countries such as China, Bhutan and Nepal as well.
At the Prime Minister’s initiative, India, in turn, has offered Bangladesh an equity stake, and thus part-ownership, in the Tipaimukh Dam, which it proposes to construct in Manipur on a river common to both countries. Even after six months, Bangladesh is yet to respond to India on whether the proposal is acceptable.