Pakistan has to create atmosphere free of terror: Modi tells Xi Jinping on sidelines of SCO Summit

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Published: June 14, 2019 12:17:34 AM

‘Bank of China in India, Azhar listing proof of improving Sino-Indian ties’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the SCO summit, in Bishkek on ThursdayPrime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the SCO summit, in Bishkek on Thursday

Less than a month-and-half after Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar was listed as a global terrorist after Beijing lifted its technical hold, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he has made efforts to initiate peace with Pakistan, but his efforts have been “derailed”.

Modi, who met Xi for a bilateral meeting at the State residence Al-Archa in Bishkek ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit in the Kyrgyz Republic capital, said Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere “free of terrorism”, but at this stage, Delhi has not seen that from Islamabad’s side.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said, “There was a very brief discussion on Pakistan. PM said that we have a consistent position with respect to Pakistan. We discuss all issues through a bilateral mechanism and we look for peaceful settlement through negotiation. We are committed to this process.”

“The Prime Minister recalled that he has made efforts in this regard, and his efforts have been derailed. He informed President Xi Jinping that Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free of terrorism. And at this stage, we did not this as happening. And therefore, we expect Pakistan to take concrete action on the issues that India has proposed, on the issues that India has flagged,” Gokhale said.

Modi told Xi that Azhar’s listing is evidence that the strategic communication between the two countries at different levels has “improved”.

These comments hold significance since Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is also in Bishkek for the SCO summit, and there is a possibility of Modi and Khan meeting each other in the presence of Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other SCO leaders.

The Prime Minister, who began the meeting by wishing Xi on his birthday on June 15, said they can “move forward”, as “both of us have got similar term” — this was a reference to the almost overlapping terms of Modi’s second term and Xi’s second term as President.

He said there was a “historic opportunity” to take the Sino-Indian relationship to a new level. The two leaders had a “brief discussion” on the boundary issue as well.

Gokhale said the Special Representatives have been asked to expedite discussions to achieve a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question”, but underlined that the “approach should be constructive” and it “must be driven by the larger context in which we see India-China relations, in which the two leaders see the relations in the coming years”.

Describing the meeting as marked by “warm and cordial discussion”, he said Xi congratulated Modi on his election victory, and “it reflected aspirations and trust people have”.

They agreed that there is a new momentum since the April 2018 Wuhan summit, Gokhale said. In this context, Modi specifically noted that what has improved is the strategic communication at all levels.

And he counted resolution of some of the long pending issues — like opening of the Bank of China in India, and China lifting its hold on Masood Azhar’s listing — as evidence of that. They said they should move to new areas and raise their expectations from the relationship. They asked both sides to prepare thoroughly for the next informal summit later this year.

There was some discussion on trade, and Modi noted that regulatory procedures have been simplified by Chinese side on non-basmati rice, sugar and agriculture products. “There should be significant uptick”, Gokhale said, talking about trade in these commodities.

They also expected that though initial steps have been taken, in the next few months, they hope to see some “significant breakthrough” on addressing trade issues.

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