Xi backs Pakistan over Kashmir dispute ahead of Modi meeting

PM Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host Chinese President Xi Jinping for an informal summit later this week, the Indian foreign ministry said, with the talks coming at a time when ties have been strained over the disputed region of Kashmir.

The meeting in the southern Indian city of Chennai on Friday and Saturday is aimed at enhancing the rapport the leaders built when they met in the Chinese city of Wuhan previous year to help stabilize ties after a standoff in another contested section of their long border, far removed from Kashmir.

"The forthcoming Chennai 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 in a statement. Modi will hold one-to-one and delegation-level talks with the Chinese president.

China's close security ties with Pakistan have always been a matter of concern in New Delhi and in recent years India has drawn closer to the United States to help balance China's rising weight across the region.

Both sides are yet to announce the dates for President Xi's India visit though it is learnt that he will arrive in Chennai on Friday for a almost 24-hour trip.

China had reacted strongly to India's decision on Kashmir.

"Over the past decades, no single bullet has been fired at the China-India border area, and peace and tranquility has been maintained".

But, China added United Nations and UNSC resolutions on Kashmir when Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Beijing few days later and met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

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The two leaders had their first inaugural informal summit in Wuhan, China on April 27-28 2018.

"At the invitation of the Prime Minister, the President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping will be visiting Chennai, India from 11 to 12 October 2019 for the 2nd Informal Summit", the ministry said.

In a statement released by his office following the meeting, Khan said the speedy completion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was the "number one priority of his government" and reiterated Islamabad's support for Beijing's core interests. He said the Kashmir issue is a "dispute left from the past and should be properly and peacefully resolved based in accordance with the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements".

The second summit is expected to build on the relationship reset that began in Wuhan where Modi and Xi had agreed that "the two countries have the maturity and the wisdom to handle all our differences through peaceful discussion within the context of this overall relationship and bearing in mind that we would respect each other's sensitivities, concerns and aspirations".

Given that India and China will be commemorating 70 years of establishment of diplomatic ties next year, the two leaders are expected to discuss how to make bilateral ties more "people centric", the person cited above said.

Beijing claims parts of Buddhist-dominated Ladakh, perched on a steep Himalayan border with China's restive Xinjiang to its north and Tibet to the east. India too says that part of Ladakh that is under Chinese control is its.

Mamallapuram, an ancient coastal town, is being prepared the summit, but both sides are yet to announce the dates for Xi's visit.

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