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India, China to tap multilateral forums for bilateral contacts

NEW DELHI: India and China should work to enhance trust and not suspicion and their "common interests" far outweigh their differences, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told Indian ambassador Pradeep Rawat in a meeting on Wednesday.
Significantly, the Indian embassy said in a statement that there was an "agreement" that the 2 sides should make full use of the opportunities provided by multilateral meetings to continue their exchange of views including between the two foreign ministers. India has so far maintained that there cannot be business as usual with China till the time the military standoff in eastern Ladakh is fully resolved.
Wang, however, had visited India in late March in what was the first high-level bilateral visit by either side since the deadly Galwan clash in June 2020. China has since been emphasising that India and China have similar positions on major international issues and has seemed appreciative of India's position on the Ukraine crisis. According to China, Wang told Rawat that foreign minister S Jaishankar publicly expressed his disapproval of "European centralism and objections to external forces meddling in China-India relations" and that this reflected India's tradition of independence.
The meeting, however, also came days after China's decision to block a proposed UN ban on Pakistan based terrorist Abdul Rehman Makki.
In the meeting, according to the Indian embassy, Rawat emphasised the criticality of maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas for realizing the full potential of the consensus at the highest level on the importance of the relationship. Wang said that the border issue is important and that the 2 countries should stay committed to peacefully addressing it through consultation and coordination.
That differences with India remained on the border standoff was evident from the Chinese readout which said Wang reiterated China's position that the 2 countries put the the boundary issue in an appropriate place in bilateral relations and seek solutions through dialogue and consultation.
"The common interests between China and India far outweigh the differences. The two sides should bear in mind the overall interests of bilateral relations, help each other succeed instead of engaging in attrition, strengthen cooperation instead of guarding against each other, and enhance trust instead of being suspicious of each other," said Wang, as he appealed to India to build upon the "warming momentum" in ties.
Chinese authorities also quoted Rawat as saying India will firmly pursue an independent foreign policy, and is ready to work with China to follow through on the "strategic consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication, properly handle differences, enhance mutual trust, and promote better development of bilateral cooperation".
Rawat's meeting with Wang took place just ahead of the Brics summit that was chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping and attended by PM Narendra Modi.
Wang recalled his meeting with Jaishankar in March 2022 and mentioned that the Chinese side attached importance to the Indian side’s concerns regarding return of Indian students and that he hoped to see early progress on this, said the Indian embassy.
"He also referred to discussions on resumption of direct flight connectivity between the two sides. Ambassador Rawat conveyed that the relevant agencies in India are seized of the matter and we may see progress in the matter soon," it added.
According to China, Wang put forward "four-pronged perseverance" on China-India relations. First, said Wang, is persevere in the important strategic consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries that China and India are partners rather than rivals, and are not threats to each other but opportunities for each other's development.
"Second, persevere in putting the boundary issue in an appropriate place in bilateral relations and seeking solutions through dialogue and consultation. Third, persevere in continuously injecting positive energy into bilateral relations, fully leveraging the traditional strengths of cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and continuously expanding mutually beneficial cooperation. Fourth, persevere in expanding multilateral cooperation, joining hands to revitalize Oriental civilizations, coping with the complicated world together, and opening up a brighter future for mankind," said the Chinese statement.
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