SCO: Modi invites Chinese President Xi to India for informal summit

06/13/2019

Bishkek, June 13: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit here and discussed ways to further strengthen the bilateral relations.

According to Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale Modi and Xi agreed that both countries needed to raise their expectations from the Sino-India relationship.  

The Prime Minister also invited Xi to India for an informal summit and Xi expressed his readiness to visit the country, Gokhale said. 

Modi also said at the meeting that India wanted Islamabad to take "concrete action" to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue.

"Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free of terror, but at this stage we do not see it happening. We expect Islamabad to take concrete action" to resume talks, Gokhale quoted the prime minister as telling President Xi.

He said India has a consistent position with respect to Pakistan that it wants peaceful relations with Islamabad.

Gokhale said Prime Minister Modi told President Xi that he has made efforts to improve ties with Islamabad but these efforts have been "derailed".

This is the first meeting between the two leaders after Modi's re-election following BJP’s victory in the general elections last month.

Modi's comments came ahead of President Xi's meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is also here in the Kyrgyz capital to attend the SCO summit.

Khan has written to Prime Minister Modi twice seeking resumption of dialogue on all issues, including Kashmir.

Responding to Khan's overtures, Prime Minister Modi told his Pakistani counterpart that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was later handed over to India.

China played a role in easing tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad. 

Ahead of the meeting, China hinted that President Xi would highlight the need to forge a united front against US President Donald Trump's policies of trade protectionism and unilateralism using tariffs as a weapon.

China and the US have been in an escalating conflict over trade for the past year. The scope of the battle has expanded in recent months as Washington has tightened trade restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

 

Chinese officials hope that India, which is also facing trade frictions with the US specially over termination of its designation as a 'beneficiary developing country' under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), would join the fight against Trump's protectionist policies.

Prime Minister Modi arrived in the Kyrgyz capital on Thursday for the SCO summit, the first multilateral engagement post his re-election. The SCO is a China-led 8-member economic and security bloc with India and Pakistan being admitted to the grouping in 2017.

Last month, Xi extended his "heartfelt congratulations" to Prime Minister Modi for winning the general elections, in a rare gesture of greeting a foreign leader well before the official announcement of the results.

The economic and commercial engagement between India and China constitutes a major component of the bilateral relations with bilateral trade which crossed USD 95 billion last year and is set to cross USD 100 billion this year.

The two leaders have met more than 10 times in the last five years, including thrice after their informal summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan in April, 2018 -- first at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit held in June last in China's Qingdao, the second time at the BRICS summit in South Africa's Johannesburg in July and third time in December last on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina.

The Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi was largely credited to have turned around the bilateral relations soured by the 73-day Doklam standoff, triggered by Chinese troops attempts to build a road close to Indian border in an area also claimed by Bhutan in 2017.

After the Wuhan summit, both the countries stepped up efforts to improve relations on different spheres including the military-to-military ties.

Last month, the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the powerful UN Security Council designated Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after veto-wielding permanent member China lifted its technical hold on the proposal by the US, the UK and France to blacklist him.

It was a huge diplomatic victory for India after a decade of relentless efforts to ban the mastermind of several terror attacks against India, including the deadly Pulwama attack against Indian security forces. Agencies

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