MAHABALIPURAM, India (AFP) – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday spoke of a new era in relations, after talks aimed at overcoming differences between the world’s two most populous nations.
Modi and Xi strolled along a pristine Bay of Bengal beach and held one-on-one talks from chairs overlooking the ocean before their delegations sat down to official negotiations at the historic resort town of Mahabalipuram, south of Chennai.
The two leaders met for the second time in 18 months in a bid to ease tensions over border disputes, the troubled Kashmir region and China’s domination of trade between their economies.
They reaffirmed a pledge made at the last summit in Wuhan, China, that “both sides will prudently manage their differences and not allow differences on any issue to become disputes,” said an Indian government statement.
Modi said the Wuhan summit had given “increased stability and fresh momentum to our relationship”.
“Our Chennai vision today has launched a new era of cooperation between our two countries,” he added.
Xi said in his opening remarks to the summit delegations that he and Modi held “candid discussions as friends.”
China’s official Xinhua news agency later cited Xi as saying China-India relations “have entered a new phase of sound and stable development” since Wuhan.
“Maintaining and developing good relations between the two countries is China’s unwavering policy,” Xinhua cited Xi as saying
The buildup to the summit was dominated by India’s revocation in August of the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir state.
Changes ordered by the New Delhi government will see Kashmir’s Ladakh region – part of which is claimed by Beijing – turned into a separate Indian administrative territory.
India has moved closer to the United States and its allies in seeking a counter-weight to China’s growing military shadow in the Asia-Pacific region.