BRICS Summit in Johannesburg

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and President of China Xi Jinping attend a meeting during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on August 24, 2023. Marco Longari/Pool via REUTERS Acquire Licensing Rights

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg and highlighted concerns India has about border issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India’s foreign secretary said.

Modi and Xi agreed “to direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said.

Relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have been sour for more than three years after soldiers from both sides clashed in the Himalayan frontier in June 2020, resulting in 24 deaths.

While the situation on the nearly 3,000-km (1,860-mile)frontier has been calm since, the face-off continues in a few pockets.

On the sidelines of the BRICS summit Modi highlighted to Xi “India’s concerns on the unresolved issues along the LAC”, Kwatra said.

Modi also “underlined that the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas, and observing and respecting the LAC are essential for the normalisation of the India-China relationship,” the foreign secretary said.

This is the first time that Modi has brought up the issue directly with Xi, repeating India’s stand that has been shared with China through other ministers multiple times.

The two leaders interacted on the sidelines of the Group of 20 nations summit in Indonesia last year, but only exchanged courtesies and discussed the need to stabilise ties, the Indian government said recently.

Discussions have taken place at several levels to find solutions to border issues, but a resolution remains elusive.

Just before the two leaders travelled to Johannesburg, military commanders held talks for five days along the Himalayan frontier in an attempt to find a breakthrough. While the two sides said the talks had been positive, there was no word on any pullback of troops on the ground.

China’s foreign and defence ministers visited India earlier this year for G20 and Shanghai Cooperation Dialogue events and met their Indian counterparts.

Reporting by Bhargav Acharya, Tannur Anders; writing by Krishn Kaushik; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Based in Johannesburg, Bhargav reports on breaking news across Sub-Saharan Africa. Previously he spent three and a half years in Bengaluru, India, as part of Reuters’ Global News Monitoring team. He has a master’s degree in International Studies.

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