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Indian PM Modi visits China in bid to boost trade relations

Prime Minister Modi has arrived in China for a three-day visit aimed at securing billions in trade deals. Modi and China's president, Xi, were also set to discuss an old border dispute that has hindered bilateral ties.

Chinese President Xi Jinping received India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, in the city of Xian in central China on Thursday as the two Asian powerhouses sought to strengthen economic ties following decades of animosity.

The choice of Xian is a significant one, as Modi is the first leader Xi has hosted in his ancestral hometown, mirroring his visit to the Indian premier's home state of Gujarat in September. The move signals that the world's two most populous nations may finally set aside mistrust over a long-festering border dispute to sign trade deals worth billions.

Modi stopped for photos next to a pit of two-thousand year old terracotta warrior sculptures at the start of

his three-day visit

, after which he and Xi visited a pagoda connected to the monk who brought Buddhism to China from India roughly 2,000 years ago.

The two countries have agreed to hasten work on Indian railroads, as China hopes to cash in on Modi's wish for a more modern train system. Chinese investors are also looking for other ways to satisfy India's estimated $1 trillion (876 billion euros) in infrastructure needs such as airports, roads, and harbors.

Sino-Indian relations "are experiencing stable development and facing broad prospects," despite the Himalayan border disagreement, Xi was quoted as telling Modi by state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The two leaders are expected to discuss the dispute, which spurred a violent conflict in 1962 that continued for over a month.

Thorny diplomatic history

Despite the outward positively attitudes, several thorny issues continue to rankle diplomatic relations, such the activities of China's navy in waters New Delhi considers its own strategic turf, as well as Chinese support for India's biggest rival, Pakistan. For China's part, the fact that the Dalai Lama, who is reviled as a Tibetan separatist, fled to India in 1959 has long ruffled feathers in Beijing.

Modi will travel to the Chinese capital on Friday to meet Premier Li Keqiang before going on to Shanghai for activities focused on boosting trade ties.

es/kms (AP, Reuters)

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