The top leaders of India and China said they are committed to handling their border dispute peacefully, even as Chinese and Indian troops continued to face-off along the Himalayan border on Thursday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is on a three-day state visit to India, said Beijing hopes “to settle the boundary question at an early date.” Until then, Xi said China will work to “maintain peace and tranquility.”
His comments followed a meeting in New Delhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who insisted the dispute must be addressed “very soon.”
Modi said peace on the border “is the basis of the relationship between the two nations.”
New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in the disputed region of Ladakh.
A meeting late Wednesday between both sides failed to resolve the standoff.
The long-standing territorial dispute threatens to overshadow Xi’s visit, which had been expected to focus on expanded economic ties between the two Asian powers.
At a ceremony Thursday at India’s presidential palace, Xi focused on the potential for good relations between China and India.
“China and India are the world’s two largest developing countries and emerging markets. We’re also two important forces in an increasingly multi-polar world,” Xi said.
‘Strategic, global significance’
“Therefore, our relationship has strategic and global significance. And if our two countries work for common development, we can bring benefit to the 2.5 billion people in China and India,” he added.
“We can bring prosperity to Asia, and we can create opportunities for the world. During this visit, I hope to work with the Indian leadership to be strong advocates of China-India relations and to partner with each other to take our strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity to a higher plane,” Xi said.
India hopes to use the trip to attract more Chinese investment in India’s infrastructure and expand Indian exports to China in order to help balance a trade deficit heavily skewed in Beijing’s favor.
In 2013, trade between the two countries stood at $70 billion, though India’s trade deficit with China has soared to $40 billion.