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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

After temple tour, it’s talk time for Modi and Xi; summit to wrap-up with lunch

Modi and Xi held informal talks on Friday as they took a walk around ancient monuments at the 1,400-year-old temple complex by the sea.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2019 09:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram on Friday. (PTI Photo )
         

The scene for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping will shift from Mamallapuram’s ancient temple complex to a five-star hotel overlooking the Bay of Bengal on the second day on Saturday.

Modi and Xi will have a meeting at Machaan at the Taj Fisherman’s Cove Resort and Spa before they hold delegation-level talks at the Tango Hall in the same place.

It will be followed by a lunch hosted by Modi, which will be another opportunity for one-on-one discussions between the two leaders before Xi departs for the Chennai airport a little after noon.

Modi and Xi held informal talks on Friday as they took a walk around ancient monuments at the 1,400-year-old temple complex by the sea.

At the temple complex, PM Modi and President Xi visited three monuments – Arjuna’s Penance, Panch Ratha and the Shore Temple. They also watched a cultural programme before attending the dinner at the Shore Temple complex.

The private dinner between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi that capped the first day of the India-China informal summit on Friday lasted more than double the scheduled duration.

It was an indication that both sides were making efforts to work out differences that have recently strained ties because of China’s strong support to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue over the past few weeks.

“Discussions were very open and cordial. The two leaders had detailed discussions on their respective national visions… President Xi Jinping, while acknowledging that the Prime Minister had got a [big] mandate, said he was looking forward to working very closely with the Prime Minister on all issues,” foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said while briefing the media after the two leaders concluded their discussions on the first day of the summit.

“They held discussions on trade-related issues… on how to enhance trade volume and trade value. This included the issue of trade deficit that exists,” he added.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted late on Friday that the leaders had a “highly productive day” that concluded with a “pleasant conversation over a long dinner”.

Modi and Xi “continued their exchange of views on deepening the India-China partnership” during the cultural performance and the dinner, he said.

Kumar said in an earlier tweet that the “free flowing nature of the Informal Summit at the Unesco World Heritage site will continue and deepen contacts at the highest level and guide the future trajectory of (the) India-China relationship”.

Gokhale said the two leaders discussed the issue of radicalisation.

“Radicalisation was a matter of concern to both and both will work together to see that radicalisation and terrorism did not affect the fabric of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies,” he said.

Gokhale did not mention that the leaders spoke about the Kashmir issue, which India has maintained is an internal matter.

Both sides are expected to issue separate statements on Saturday, but people familiar with the matter said they were coordinating closely on what the final texts would say.

The meet is the second edition of the informal summit between Modi and Xi. They had first met in the Chinese lake city of Wuhan in April 2018, months after a 73-day face-off between the armies of the two countries at Doklam that had taken their relationship to an all-time low.

Indian officials are hopeful that the second summit would help the two leaders clear the air after a testy exchange on the Kashmir issue had clouded the atmosphere ahead of the Mamallapuram meeting.

More than 5,000 security personnel are part of the extensive security arrangements in and around Mamallapuram and hundreds of police personnel were seen guarding key roads around the resort stopping vehicles for thorough checks.

First Published: Oct 12, 2019 08:46 IST

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