India, China agree to maintain border tranquility

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Johannesburg : India and China reiterated their commitment to maintain peace and tranquility along their border by enhancing communications between their militaries during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the annual BRICS Summit here.

"Both leaders have reaffirmed once again their readiness to give their militaries the necessary directions to enhance communications between them and to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas," Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said at a media briefing here on Thursday evening.

Indian and Chinese troops were in a face-off position for over two months on the Doklam plateau at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction last year.

The stand-off began in June when Indian troops stalled a road building by the Chinese Army in the area, citing the disputed status of the region and its close proximity to India's artery in the northeast.

New Delhi objected to Chinese road building in Doklam because of the disputed status and its proximity to the Siliguri Corridor which links India's northeast to the rest of the country.

The stand-off ended in August after both sides retreated from the point of the face-off.

Thursday's meeting was the third between Modi and Xi after their informal meeting in Wuhan, China, in April initiated by Xi, and on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Summit (SCO) last month.

During the Wuhan meet, both Modi and Xi pledged to keep the India-China border quiet and personally guide their respective armies to avert a Doklam-like military stand-off in future.

According to Gokhale, during the meeting in Johannesburg, both sides saw "forward movement in the sense of delegations going to have specific talks on imports by China".

He said that a delegation representing the Indian pharmaceutical industry will visit China on August 21-22.

Beijing had given approval to import of generic Indian cancer-treatment drugs earlier this year.

"In addition, a number of Indian mills in the non-Basmati rice sector have been cleared by a Chinese delegation on the grounds of phyosanitary and quarantine requirement," the Indian Foreign Secretary said.

Following the Modi-Xi meeting in Qingdao, the 2006 Protocol on phytosanitary requirements for exporting rice from India to China was amended to include the export of non-Basmati varieties of rice from India.

Gokhale described the bilateral meeting as "very productive".

"The two leaders will meet again on the margins of the G20 Summit in Argentina at the end of this year," he added.

Modi and Xi earlier in the day participated in the 10th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit here.