India, China discuss enhancing academic exchanges, tourism

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, right, and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi walk to attend the inaugural session of the India- China High Level Media Forum in New Delhi, India, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. Swaraj and Wang took up enhancing cooperation in tourism, art, film, media, culture, yoga, sports, academic and youth exchanges, according to a tweet from India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar. (AP Photo)

The foreign ministers of India and China talk about deepening ties through academic exchanges and tourism even as they vie for influence with their smaller neighbors

NEW DELHI — The foreign ministers of India and China on Friday discussed steps to deepen ties through academic exchanges and tourism even as they vie for influence with their smaller neighbors.

Sushma Swaraj and Wang Yi at their meeting in New Delhi took up enhancing cooperation in tourism, art, film, media, culture, yoga, sports, academic and youth exchanges, according to a tweet from India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar.

"As our relations are deepening and our regional and international role evolving, there are expectations from our two countries to lead Asia and usher in an 'Asian Century," Swaraj said in a message ahead of a meeting of the Indian Council of World Affairs and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Wang attended the inaugural meeting of a forum that is part of a cultural exchange program set up by the two countries in April.

A series of recent India-China meetings have eased tensions along their contested border after last year's 10-week standoff in the neighboring state of Bhutan. The countries fought a border war in 1962 over a disputed border.

Swaraj said Friday the armies of the two countries were making efforts to strengthen contacts to promote peace and tranquility in the border areas.

New Delhi has been keenly watching China's moves to build strategic and economic ties with Indian Ocean nations including Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India's longtime rival Pakistan.

China claims some territory in India's northeast, while India says China occupies part of its territory on the Aksai Chin Plateau in the western Himalayas. At least 20 meetings to discuss the competing border claims have not made significant progress.

China also resents India's hosting of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

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