Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in India Friday for an "informal" seaside summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi aimed at mending relations between the historically prickly Asian giants after sharp words over Kashmir.
Just before Xi's visit to India, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Kahn called on him earlier this week in China and the duo released a joint statement. The comment was in the context of tensions between India and Pakistan after New Delhi scrapped a temporary provision in its constitution that gave special status to Kashmir and integrated the region more closely with India.
Xi and Modi held several hours of one-on-one talks in a southern seaside Indian town in their second annual summit created to break through decades of distrust between their countries over border disputes, a ballooning trade deficit and China's close military ties with India's arch rival, Pakistan.
"This was quality time that the two leaders spent together one-on-one", Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said after the meeting, adding the leaders agreed to work together so that radicalisation and terrorism do not affect the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies of the two nations. Xi is scheduled to visit Nepal after his India meet, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had announced on Wednesday.
Harsh Pant, an worldwide relations professor at King's College London, told AFP that China's backing of Pakistan "has left a very bad taste in India's mouth".
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The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader and long a thorn in China's side, has been allowed to live in and travel the world from his base Dharamsala in northern India since 1959.
In 2017, Delhi and Beijing faced off for two months on the Doklam plateau - claimed by China and Bhutan - when Chinese troops started building a road and India sent its forces to halt them.
Modi hosted a private dinner for Xi at the temple complex after their talks. Gokhale said the leaders resolved to boost trade and investment, while Mr Modi brought up his country's trade deficit with China. Their latest meeting, over elaborate meals and dance performances in Mahabalipuram on Friday and Saturday, is aimed at building on that.
The World Heritage site of Mahabalipuram is home to historical monuments that pay testament to India and China´s ancient ties.
Beijing is insistent that New Delhi must now sign the mega free-trade pact Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP, the talks for which began in 2012.
Both as ancient civilizations with several thousand years of history, China and India have carried on their exchanges and mutual learning till this day, Xinhua quoted Xi as saying. "We have a made a wise decision on informal summits".