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China's Xi To Visit India Amid Strained Ties Over Kashmir

FILE: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in September 2016.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit India to hold an informal summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 11 and 12.

The meeting in a coastal temple town near the southern Indian city of Chennai is expected to smooth out ties that have been strained over various issues.

The latest issue to cloud relations between the Asian giants is the August revocation by New Delhi of constitutional autonomy in the disputed region of Kashmir. China’s protests over the action and its strong backing of Pakistan on the issue have raised anger in India, which says the decision is an internal matter. India and Pakistan both claim the Himalayan region and have fought two wars over the territory.

“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 on October 9.

Ahead of the summit, China’s envoy to New Delhi, Sun Weidong, also struck an optimistic note saying that it is “normal” for neighbors to have differences. “The key is to properly handle differences and find a solution through dialogue and consultation,” he told news agency ANI.

China and India are also expected to discuss issues related to their disputed boundary and trade.

India wants more access to China’s markets to bridge a $ 55 billion trade deficit in China’s favor while Beijing has been urging New Delhi to allow telecom equipment maker Huawei to bid for India’s proposed 5G network.

India has not yet said whether it would invite the company, which has been blacklisted by the United States due to national security concerns, to do so.

In recent years, the U.S. and India have built close strategic ties aimed at counterbalancing China’s growing influence in the region.

The second informal meeting between the two leaders comes a year-and-a-half after Modi and Xi met in China in the wake of a military standoff in the Himalayan mountains that had raised fears of a wider conflict between the Asian giants. The standoff involved a strategic plateau that is disputed between China and Bhutan but is also of enormous strategic significance for India.

Reported by the Voice of America