PM raises Brahmaputra issue during first meeting with Xi

PM raises Brahmaputra issue during first meeting with Xi

In the first-high level contact after the leadership changes in China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Chinese President Xi Jinping and pledged to take the ties on a "higher growth trajectory" while raising the issue of Beijing's plans to build three dams on the Brahmaputra river.

Singh called on Xi, who took over as President earlier this month as part of the once-in-a-decade change of guard in China, on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit which the two leaders attended here. This is the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders at the highest level.

"The bilateral relationship with China is of great importance. As the Prime Minister of India, it has been my great privilege to interact regularly with the Chinese leadership over the last decade," Singh said.

"I Hope to intensify such dialogue and communications with you and the new leadership of China to put our relationship on an even higher growth trajectory," he added.
Former Chinese President Hu Jintao and ex-Premier Wen Jiabao met with Singh more than 14 times in the last few years on the sidelines of BRICS and other international conferences.

On his part, Xi hailed Singh as a statesman and noted that he had contributed a lot for bettering China-India ties.

He said he would like to continue to build on that relationship with India.
"Water was discussed," official sources said tersely following the 25-minute meeting late last night after the summit without getting into specifics.

The Prime Minister is understood to have conveyed to President Xi concerns in India over the Chinese proposal to construct three dams across Brahmaputra.

India has said the proposal would affect water flow to India while China says it was just run-of-the mill project that would not hold water.

China is currently building dams at Dagu, Jiacha and Jiexu in addition to a 510 MW water project at Zangmu.

India and China have an agreement on sharing the data of the Brahmaputra waters but do not have any treaty on sharing the river waters.

The entire expanse of the bilateral relationship was discussed and the meeting was very positive, the sources said.

The two leaders expressed regards for each other. All aspects of the relationship were discussed but the South China Sea issue was not touched, the sources said.

Asked whether border and trade issues were discussed, the sources maintained that all aspects of bilateral relations came up for discussion. Both leaders expressed a desire to further strengthen the ties.

Singh congratulated Xi, who is also chief of the ruling Communist Party, on his election as president and said he hopes to work with him in the coming days.

The sources said during an informal discussion at the summit earlier in the day, Xi told Singh that he was aware that the Prime Minister had good relations with his predecessors and he would like to carry forward that.


Singh conveyed President Pranab Mukherjee's invitation to Xi to visit India to which the Chinese leader said he accepted it and would make the visit at an appropriate time.
On his part, Prime Minister Singh said he had an invitation from former Premier Wen for visiting China and he would make the visit on mutually acceptable date. The sources said Singh is likely to make a visit to China this year.

Meanwhile, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported that President Xi has urged Singh to broaden military exchanges and cooperation between the armed forces to deepen security trust and make good use of Special Representatives mechanism to resolve the boundary dispute.

Xi called on the two sides to maintain high-level reciprocal visits and contacts, make full use of political dialogue and consultations at various levels to strengthen strategic and political communication, it said.


President Xi said the two sides, with the help of such cooperative mechanisms as strategic and economic dialogue, should also discuss their cooperation on large-scale infrastructure projects.

On the border issue, Xi said China and India should improve and make good use of the mechanism of special representatives to strive for a fair, rational solution framework acceptable to both sides as soon as possible.

Xi also called for enhancing people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, and broadening youth exchanges.

Prime Minister Singh was assisted by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon while Xi was assisted by the new foreign minister, two politburo members and Yang Jeichi, state counsellor who has replaced Dai Binguo, who was the Special Representative with Menon for the dialogue. China and India, as the world's two largest developing nations, have a similar historic mission to boost their social and economic development, Xi said.

China, which regards its ties with India as one of the most important bilateral relationship, commits itself to pushing forward the two countries' strategic cooperative partnership, he said.

He said the two sides should strengthen coordination and cooperation within the United Nations, BRICS, the G20 and other multilateral groupings, support each other's participation in regional cooperation, and promote peace, stability and development in Asia.

Last week, in an interview to PTI, Xi had said the boundary question was complex left behind by history and peace and tranquility should be maintained.

Xi had warm words about relations with India and proposed a five-point formula under which both the countries would accommodate each other's concerns in matters of "core interests".

Pending settlement of the issue, both the countries should not allow differences to come in the way of overall development of the bilateral ties, Xi had said.

India asserts that the border dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims that it confined to about 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.

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