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India Needs to Engage with China at Highest Level to Avoid Disputes: Ex-foreign Secy Kanwal Sibal

The Prime Minister donned a 'veshti,' (dhoti) and a shawl over his shoulder in sync with Tamil tradition while meeting China's Xi Jinping.

The Prime Minister donned a 'veshti,' (dhoti) and a shawl over his shoulder in sync with Tamil tradition while meeting China's Xi Jinping.

Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, however, said that India tried to manage relations with China, and that explains the Chennai-Mahabalipuram events, when PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met.

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New Delhi: India needs to engage with China at the "highest level" in addressing the boundary and other issues so as to prevent "our differences to become disputes", said former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal on Tuesday.

Sibal was addressing a gathering in New Delhi during a panel discussion on 'Modi 2.0: Diplomacy for a New India', where he asserted that India's approach has been to manage the bilateral relationship to avoid disputes.

"We have to engage China at the highest level because there are major issues in our relationship. Everyone has to engage in China. We are aware of China's hegemonic ambitions in Asia, and it poses a challenge to not just us but also to others on land and sea," Sibal said.

Nevertheless, we (India) have tried to manage it, and that explains the Chennai-Mahabalipuram events, when leaders from both sides met, he said.

"The idea is to manage our differences in relationship and control tensions, and not allow our differences become disputes," the former foreign secretary said.

Later during interaction with the audience, he said that he agreed with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's statement on India-China ties with respect to the boundary issues.

At an event in eastern Ladakh on Monday, Singh had said that India and China share "cordial relations", and there are "perceptional differences" between the two countries on the boundary issue, but it has been handled responsibly and with great maturity by both sides.

"Yes, I agree with what Rajnath Singh has said on the boundary issue, and both sides have handled it responsibly," Sibal said.

"The best step to address the issue would be to have some mechanism where we can identify what are the perceptions on each side, as to where the Line of Actual Control lies," he said.

The event organised by India Writes Network at Teen Murti Bhawan was also attended by ambassadors of Brazil and Algeria, MEA Secretary (Economic Affairs) T S Tirumurti, former Indian ambassadors and senior diplomats and other officials of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Ambassador of Brazil to India Andre Aranha Correa do Lago spoke about the Indo-Brazil and Indo-Latin American ties and pushed for having a greater engagement between the two sides.

He also touched upon the 11th BRICS Summit that Brazil will host next month.

Tirumurti, in his address, said, "Indian freedom struggle against colonialism also inspired other countries, with whom we share bonding. We can call it freedom diplomacy. And, now we have moved from freedom diplomacy to development diplomacy."

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