- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

BEIJING (AP) - China is welcoming the new Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying it wants to strengthen the sometimes troubled relationship between the Asian giants.

Top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi met with India’s ambassador to Beijing on Tuesday to assure him of the “high importance” China attaches to ties, the official Xinhua News agency reported.

China is “ready to work with the new Indian government to maintain high-level contact, strengthen cooperation and communication in all areas, keep the good momentum in developing bilateral ties, and contribute to the peace and progress of Asia and the world,” Yang, a state councilor and former foreign minister, was quoted as telling Ashok Kumar Kantha.

A day earlier, Premier Li Keqiang sent Modi a message of congratulations, saying maintaining strong relations with India was a top foreign policy priority.

India and China have grown closer in recent years, although their ties remain overshadowed by a territorial dispute and the legacy of a brief but bloody 1962 border war fought high in snowy Himalayan mountain ranges.

Last year, their border troops engaged in a 3-week stand-off after India said Chinese soldiers crossed several kilometers (miles) into its territory across the Line of Actual Control. China claimed its troops were on the Chinese side of the line.

Despite more than a dozen rounds of talks aimed at resolving territorial issues, much of their 4,000-kilometer (2,500-mile) border remains in dispute.

China claims around 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of land in India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, while India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the western Himalayas.

India’s concerns about a rising China are sharpened by China’s close ties with archrival Pakistan and its dominance in the global economy.

Trade between China and India, meanwhile, has stalled in recent years, falling to $65 billion last year, with China enjoying a $48 billion surplus.

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