Can India China climb the Great Wall?

New Delhi: China’s foreign minister is expected to meet India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday as part of a two-day visit to New Delhi to build relations with the newly elected government.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on Sunday in the first high-level meeting between the two nations since Modi took office. India described the talks as a “productive and substantive” step towards stronger relations between the neighbours whose ties have long been frosty over a border dispute in the Himalayas.

In his meet Modi is expected to stress on economic diplomacy and focus on ensuring that the boundary issue is settled. He has also invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit India later this year, extending an olive to the country which has increased its assertive in territorial disputes.

China is India’s biggest trading partner with two-way commerce totalling close to $70 billion. But India’s trade deficit with China has soared to more than $40 billion from just $1 billion in 2001-02, Indian figures show.

Relations are also still dogged by mutual suspicion — a legacy of a brief, bloody border war in 1962 over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh that is nestled in the eastern stretch of the Himalayas that China claims as its own.

The neighbours have held a series of talks to try to resolve their border dispute but the frontier still bristles with tension.

Ahead of the talks, Wang sought to play down tensions over their border, saying with “strong will and resolve, we will eventually find a solution”.

“No country can choose its neighbour, but friendship may be fostered,” he told The Hindu newspaper in an interview published Sunday.

Beijing is also involved in multiple other disputes in the South China Sea, and has a bitter row with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

(With AFP inputs)


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