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Modi and Xi to engage freely at Wuhan, no formal agenda for talks

The discussions have not been planned in a structured way and the two leaders are not expected to compare notes and tick off specific issues one by one, officials said.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2018 11:27 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Narendra Modi,Xi Jinping,Wuan summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Sabarmati Ashram, in Gujarat, in September 2014. (PIB file photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have free-flowing discussions on a wide range of topics in their several one-on-one meetings during an informal summit in Wuhan later this week, officials said in Beijing on Tuesday.

There is no formal agenda for the summit, officials said, adding that it will give the two leaders an opportunity to engage freely. The discussions have not been planned in a structured way and the two leaders are not expected to compare notes and tick off specific issues one by one, they added.

Modi will directly fly to the city of Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province on the evening of April 26 and meet Xi several times over the next two days.

Most of the meetings will strictly be between the two leaders – along with interpreters – as they take stock of the broad aspects of bilateral, regional and international issues, officials said.

Specific issues such as the impasse over India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group or Beijing repeatedly blocking Pakistan-based terror suspect Masood Azhar from being proscribed at the United Nations are unlikely to be discussed.

The Hindustan Times first reported on March 17 that Modi and Xi would meet informally in China.

The idea of the summit germinated during the meeting of the two leaders during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit held in the city of Xiamen in south China last September.

Modi and Xi had met for a bilateral meeting during the BRICS summit, days after the militaries of the two countries had disengaged following the long standoff at Doklam near the Sikkim border.

The ties between the two countries, key economies in Asia and partners in various regional groupings such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), have been strained in the past year after the Doklam border standoff.

Two countries have also been at loggerheads over the Belt and Road initiative, Beijing’s resistance to bring Pakistan-based militant Masood Azhar under the UN sanctions and China’s reservations over India becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Prime Minister Modi is likely to continue his efforts, started in September 2014 in Ahmedabad, to improve relationships with Xi despite the fear of another incursion by the Chinese army like that in Chumar soon after their meeting.

Since taking over as the Prime Minister, Modi has made it a point to keep in touch with world leaders at a personal level, and particularly with Xi as he believes the only gainer out of poor India-China relationship is Pakistan, analysts have said.

Xi, on his part, has also positively responded whether it was the resolution of Chumar in 2014 or Doklam in 2017 issues after Modi personally intervened, the analysts said.

First Published: Apr 24, 2018 11:27 IST