Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping briefly discussed a “range of issues” during an informal gathering of BRICS leaders in Hamburg on Friday, raising hopes of a resolution to the three-week-old standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Sikkim sector.
Addressing the gathering before the interaction, Xi also called on BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries to “push for peaceful settlement of regional conflicts and disputes,” Chinese state media reported.
"External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay tweeted a photo of the two leaders smiling and shaking hands. He said Modi and Xi had a “conversation on a range of issues” reports Indian Media.
According to Indian media, there was no indication whether the two leaders specifically discussed the border dispute that has roiled bilateral relations. According to sources, the conversation lasted about five minutes.
According to Indian Media, the BRICS leaders met on the margins of the G20 Summit. During the meeting, Modi and Xi praised the roles played by each other’s country in the international arena.
Modi “appreciated momentum in BRICS under the chairmanship of President Xi and extended full cooperation and best wishes for the BRICS Xiamen Summit”, according to a statement from the external affairs ministry.
Concluding the meeting immediately after Modi’s remarks, Xi “appreciated India’s strong resolve against terrorism and the momentum in BRICS introduced under India’s chairmanship and through the outcomes of the Goa Summit in 2016”.
Xi also appreciated “India’s success in economic and social development and wished India even bigger success”.
Ahead of the meeting of BRICS leaders, however, China kept up the pressure on India over the standoff at Donglang, which began on June 16 when Indian troops opposed the construction of a road by Chinese forces in an area claimed by Bhutan.
India has “ulterior motives” in claiming the entire Doklam or Donglang region as part of the tri-junction with Bhutan, and New Delhi’s stance goes against its acceptance of a British-era convention on national boundaries in the area, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a news briefing.
“The so-called tri-junction point, as its name implies, is a point instead of a line or area. The 1890 convention between Great Britain and China relating to Tibet and Sikkim (shows that the point) commences at Mount Gipmochi in the east and follows the water-parting until it meets Nepal,” Geng said.
Noting that successive Indian governments had recognized the 1890 convention, Geng contended that the “illegal trespass” by Indian troops had occurred at a point 2,000 meters from Mount Gipmochi and had “nothing to do with tri-junction point”.