WUHAN, China (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to an informal summit next year when he wanted to convene an ice-breaking visit to China on Friday.
Modi spends only about 24 hours The central Chinese city of Wuhan, just months after a dispute over part of its high-altitude Himalayan border, again sparked war fears between Asian nations.
"I hope that such informal summits will become a tradition between the two countries, and I am pleased that an informal summit will be held in India in 2019," said Modi in a reporters' media center in Wuhan.
Xi told Modi that the influence of both countries in the world and in the region is steadily increasing.
"Looking to the future, we see a bright and bright future for Sino-Indian cooperation," said Xi.
"China and India are both important drivers of global growth, and we are central to promoting a multipolar and globalized world, and a good Sino-Indian relationship is an important and positive factor in maintaining world peace and stability ", he added.
Modi said that India and China, which represent 40 percent of the world's population, should try to work together to address global issues.
Modi stressed the importance of world peace and said that both nations needed to "make all kinds of contributions".
But despite the rhetoric on Friday, the differences between nations are significant.
In addition to disputes over 3,500 km (2,200 miles), they clash in the Indian Ocean and argue about the Xi infrastructure initiative Belt and Road.
India signaled its rejection of the Great Trade and Transport Plan on Tuesday because one of its branches leads Pakistan-led Kashmir, which India claims.
India has long been suspicious of China's traditionally close ties with Pakistan.
China is concerned about US efforts to draw India into a maritime "quad" of democracies, including Japan and Australia.
China is also suspicious of India's admission of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans living in exile.
But on Friday there was no public mention of differences.
Earlier in the day, Modi and Xi inspected ancient Chinese artifacts at the Hubei Provincial Museum, where they also exchanged views on the dialogue between their two ancient civilizations and how to live together peacefully, China's state-run news agency Xinhua said.
The two were to go to the Indian Foreign Ministry later together.
On Saturday they will go for a walk together and then go on a one-hour boat trip, in informal conditions, mostly without helpers, hoping both sides to have open discussions.
In a Friday commentary, the official People's Daily of the ruling Communist Party said that the cultures of China and India attached great importance to the concept of harmony and pointed out that the Hubei Provincial Museum 2014 held a special exhibition on India held.
"The friendly exchanges between China and India have seen moving stories that provide a model for intercultural dialogue in the world," it says.
The museum in Wuhan, an industrial and university provincial capital with no obvious connection to India, was closed before the government's visit. A plainclothes policeman told a Reuters reporter to stop taking pictures.
A sign at the entrance said it was closed for four days due to "equipment maintenance".
Additional reports by Malani Menon, Sanjeev Miglani in NEW DELHI, and Gao Liangping and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Arrangement by Robert Birsel