Amid Kashmir tensions, India requests China to focus on common ground as leaders meet

MAHABALIPURAM: Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Indian host Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at an informal summit to cooperate against “radicalisation”, India said late Friday, after the Asian giants with historically prickly ties had exchanged sharp words over Kashmir.

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The seaside meeting aimed at mending relations after India irked China by its splitting of Jammu and Kashmir state into two in August. The decision will also make the area’s Ladakh region — part of which is claimed by Beijing — a separate Indian administrative territory.

India in turn has been enraged by China’s diplomatic backing for Pakistan, which controls a much larger part of the disputed Muslim-majority Kashmir region.

Also read: Chinese troops clash with Indian soldiers in disputed border region

But at their talks on Friday, the leaders acknowledged a common challenge, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said.

“Both leaders said that these were large countries and that radicalisation was a matter of concern to both, and that both would work together to see that radicalisation and terrorism did not affect the fabric of our multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious societies”, Gokhale told reporters.

Foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar called it “a highly productive day”.

Also read: Chinese military leadership backs Pakistan on occupied Kashmir in meeting with COAS General Bajwa

Part of Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure mega-programme is planned in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Xi held talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing just two days before meeting Modi.

When Xi said he supports Pakistan´s “legitimate rights”, India’s foreign ministry thundered it was “not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India”.

Harsh Pant, an international relations professor at King’s College London, told AFP that China’s backing of Pakistan “has left a very bad taste in India’s mouth”.

Also read: PM Imran in bid to ease Saudi Arabia and Iran tensions after successful China visit

A dispatch from China’s official Xinhua news agency early Saturday gave no specifics on the talks but said Xi received a “warm welcome” from Modi and they agreed their countries “should respect and learn from each other so as to jointly achieve common development and prosperity.”

AFP

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