Rival giants India and China yesterday appeared to have got off to a "productive beginning" in resetting their frosty ties after the first-high level meeting since hardline nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Indian counterpart in New Delhi during a two-day visit to build relations with the right-wing Modi government which came to power last month on a pledge to revive the economy.
Foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said talks between Wang and India Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on economic and other issues were "productive and substantive".
The talks focused on trade ties but also touched on a border dispute between the nuclear-armed neighbours that has soured relations for decades.
Wang is expected on Monday to meet Modi, who has extended olive branches to traditional rivals China and Pakistan since coming to office despite his hardline nationalist reputation.
Modi has invited Chinese President Xi Jinping, himself a nationalist leader, to visit later this year, an offer that Wang told India media had been accepted.
Wang told the Hindu newspaper he had travelled to the capital as a special envoy of Xi to "cement our existing friendship and explore further cooperation".
"China is ready to work with our Indian friends for an even brighter future of our strategic and cooperative partnership," Wang said in an interview with the paper published Sunday.
Analysts say Modi faces a tough task of dealing with an increasingly assertive and well-armed China, which is looking to play a larger role in South Asia, while still trying to strengthen economic ties with New Delhi.
China is India's biggest trading partner with two-way commerce totalling close to $70 billion. But India's trade deficit with China has soared to over $40 billion from just $1 billion in 2001-02, Indian figures show.
Experts say Modi must bridge the deficit by seeking greater access to the Chinese market, with the two sides targeting annual bilateral trade of $100 billion by 2015.
Relations however are still dogged by mutual suspicion -- a legacy of a brief, bloody border war in 1962 over the Indian northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.