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Words mat­ter in diplo­macy. And In­dia and China found very pleas­ant ones to ex­change on De­cem­ber 22 at least for two coun­tries that by some ac­counts came very close to a mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion af­ter a 72-day border stand-off in Dok­lam that ended late Au­gust. Mov­ing past Dok­lam was top of the agenda when China’s Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Yang Jiechi, came call­ing for day-long talks with his coun­ter­part, Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor Ajit Do­val.

Yang was pro­moted to the new 25-mem­ber Polit­buro this Oc­to­ber, which might well make the 20th round of border talks his last as a suc­ces­sor takes over in March. But the Dok­lam stand-off, of­fi­cials on both sides said, im­bued the Delhi visit with added sig­nif­i­cance. Yang came with a mes­sage from Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, that he de­liv­ered to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in per­son, say­ing that both

A NEW BE­GIN­NING Spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive Yang Jiechi and NSA Ajit Do­val at a re­cent meet­ing in Delhi

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