Opportunity to smoothen strained ties

World | REUTERS 10 Oct 2019

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will welcome President Xi Jinping at an informal summit starting tomorrow, their talks coming at a time of strained ties over the disputed region of Kashmir.

The meeting in Chennai is aimed at enhancing the rapport the leaders built when they met in Wuhan last year to help stabilize ties after a standoff in another contested section of their long border, far removed from Kashmir.

But India's decision in August to withdraw special status for Kashmir drew sharp condemnation from neighbor Pakistan and its old ally China, which took the matter to the UN Security Council.

The informal summit will "provide an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on deepening India-China Closer Development Partnership," the Indian foreign ministry said.

India says its revocation of the special status of Muslim-majority Kashmir, which was accompanied by a crackdown on dissent by the security forces, is an internal matter aimed at developing the Himalayan territory, which is also claimed by Pakistan, more quickly.

China, which has been criticized by the United States for its treatment of Muslims, said it believed India and Pakistan must refrain from taking unilateral action in Kashmir and has expressed concern over human rights violations there.

Xi will also make a state visit to Nepal at the end of his India visit, the first by a Chinese president in 22 years.

Ahead of Xi's trip to India, Beijing invited Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for talks.

China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its independent sovereignty and territorial integrity, Premier Li Keqiang assured Khan.

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