'Candid' border talks between prime minister Modi and China president Xi Jinping

The PM brought up the disputed frontier with Xi Jinping for the first time at the BRICS summit in South Africa. Beijing called it a "candid and in-depth exchange of views"

Prime minister Narendra Modi and China's president Xi Jinping with other world leaders at the BRICS summit in South Africa (photo: DW)
Prime minister Narendra Modi and China's president Xi Jinping with other world leaders at the BRICS summit in South Africa (photo: DW)


Prime minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping had a rare and "candid" meeting to ease tensions along their disputed frontier, Beijing said on Friday, 25 August.

China and India have long been at loggerheads over their disputed border in the Himalayas, and relations deteriorated even further after dozens of soldiers were killed in a 2020 border clash.

Thursday's meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg was the first time Modi brought up the issue directly with Xi.

"President Xi stressed that improving China–India relations serves the common interests of the two countries and peoples," a spokesperson for China's foreign ministry said on Friday.

"The two sides should bear in mind the overall interests of their bilateral relations and handle properly the border issue so as to jointly safeguard peace," Beijing's statement added.

What did PM Modi say?

Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said on behalf of the prime minister that Modi had highlighted unresolved issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that divides India's Himalayan region of Ladakh from Chinese territory.

"[The prime minister] underlined that the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas, and observing and respecting the LAC are essential for the normalisation of the India–China relationship," Kwatra told reporters on 24 August.

Beijing referred to the discussion as a "candid and in-depth exchange of views".

India and China have, of course, held numerous lower-level discussions to resolve the dispute along the 3,488 km (2,167 mile) frontier.

Before the two leaders travelled to Johannesburg, military commanders from both sides had held five days of talks along the frontier. Although they described the talks as positive, there has been no word of a pullback of troops on the ground.

Separately, China also claims all of India's north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it considers to be part of Tibet.

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