Durban: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Durban. This was the first structured high-level meeting between the two countries since the change of leadership in China.
Speaking after the meeting, Singh said he was happy to meet the Chinese President and has extended an invitation to him to visit India. "I look forward to your Excellency's personal support to the consolidation and further strengthening of our relation. Our President would be delighted to welcome you in India on a state visit. In fact, we have been waiting for this visit for more than a year now," he said.
Responding in an equally positive tone, Xi said, "I wish to express my respect to you and I am ready to cooperate in taking our bilateral relationship forward. I would be happy to visit India at an appropriate time."
Singh is understood to to have conveyed to
President Xi concerns in India over the Chinese proposal to construct three dams across Brahmaputra. "Water was discussed," official sources said tersely after a 25-minute meeting late Wednesday night after the summit without getting into specifics.
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. 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 issue was not not discussed, 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 expressed a desire to continue their relationship. The sources said during an informal discussion at the summit earlier in the day, President Xi told Singh that he was aware that the Prime Minister had good relations with his predecessor Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao and he would like to carry forward that.
Last week, in an interaction with BRICS journalists in Beijing, Xi had said he was looking forward to meeting Singh in Durban. 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
Xi, who has also assumed the role of chief of the
Communist Party and army, had said the boundary question was complex left behind by history and peace and tranquility should be maintained. Pending settlement of the issue, both the countries should not allow differences to come in the way of overall
development of the bilateral ties.
At the meeting, the Prime Minister invited President Xi to visit India to which he said he accepted it and would make the visit at an appropriate time. Similarly, the President extended an invitation to Singh to visit China and he reciprocated it in a similar vein.
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 the Indian SR Menon for the dialogue.
(With additional information from PTI)