India's Modi to visit China's Xi in new sign of diplomatic thaw

(L to R) Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries on the sidelines of the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, southeastern China's Fujian Province on September 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Wu Hong)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, as relations between the world’s two most-populous countries thaw after a tense border dispute last year.

The “informal summit” between Xi and Modi will be held Friday and Saturday in Wuhan, the capital of the central province of Hubei, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Sunday at a news conference with India External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Xi and Modi would have “communications of a strategic nature concerning big changes happening in the world,” Wang told reporters in Beijing.

“They will also exchange views on overall, long-term and strategic matters concerning the future of China-India relations,” Wang said, citing the rapid growth of both countries. “This makes for a more balanced international geometry and a stronger trend toward peace.”

Fundamental Interest

Xi and Modi last met in September, when they held their first talks since defusing a border stand-off in remote region between India, Bhutan, and China’s Tibet region. A healthy, stable relationship is in the fundamental interest of both nations, Xi said after that meeting, which took place at the conclusion of a summit of so-called BRICS nations in China’s Xiamen.

India and China together comprise more than one-third of the world’s population and account for 18 percent of global gross domestic product. Add to that the symbiotic trade relationship between the two major Asian economies, and there’s a lot at stake.

“While making efforts to progress our relations in diverse areas, we underlined that maintaining peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas is an essential prerequisite for the smooth development of bilateral relations,” Swaraj said. – Bloomberg