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Heart-to-heart talks can be new marker for ties: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-04-23 21:07

The global spotlight will be on the truce village of Panmunjom on the Korean Peninsula on Friday as the leaders of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Republic of Korea are holding their summit there.

Yet another meeting in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, may be just as significant.

The planned talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday and Saturday are described as being informal. But that has only served to raise expectations.

It remains to be seen whether it will live up to its billing as an "unprecedented meeting" like the 1988 meeting between then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. This was when the two countries agreed to put their quarrels behind them. However, this has proved harder to do than say. Yet clearly both Beijing and New Delhi hope for something substantial from the upcoming two-day meeting, since the announcement was made on Sunday after talks between State Councilor Wang Yi and visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

And there is good reason for optimism. The previous meeting between Xi and Modi took place in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen last September after the ninth BRICS summit, and it produced an end to the tense border standoff that had been souring relations for months.

That incident was a reminder to the two proud neighbors that they must manage their border issues, or they will continue to trouble them. While third parties may profit from a deteriorating China-India relationship, the two countries themselves will not. They should be vigilant of others seeking to benefit at the expense of their friendly relations and recalibrate their relationship so it serves more constructive purposes.

Last year's border altercation seems to have done just that, prompting both sides to reflect on the border issues and the importance of friendly relations within the bigger regional and global pictures.

With the top diplomats of both countries highlighting the shared will to enhance strategic communication, boost mutual confidence, and upgrade their partnership both governments agreed to develop, there are hopes the coming meeting in Wuhan can usher in a new paradigm for bilateral interactions. Safeguarding economic globalization and regional security are just two of the many priorities they share.

Historically, the two countries have generally got along well. They should be able to manage their differences and find a way to build on their historical friendship to realize the possibilities their common interests promise.

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