Today in New Delhi, India
Dec 10, 2018-Monday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

Will Sushma Swaraj announce PM Modi’s China visit? Beijing power corridors abuzz

Modi’s likely visit to China before the SCO summit would send a clear signal that both countries are serious about repairing ties in the aftermath of the Doklam military standoff last year.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2018 13:30 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Sushma Swaraj,PM Modi,Modi Xi Jinping meeting
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping leave after a group picture during BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Benaulim, in the western state of Goa, India, October 16, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File photo(Reuters File Photo)

Diplomatic circles in Beijing were abuzz with speculation about an official announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China for a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in June.

The announcement is likely to be made after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on Sunday evening.

Swaraj will hold key talks with Wang as the two countries continue efforts to get their relationship back on track following the Doklam face-off. Besides laying the groundwork for the SCO Summit in June, Swaraj and Wang are expected to take stock of bilateral ties.

Modi’s likely visit to China before the SCO Summit would send a clear signal that both countries are serious about resetting their relations, plagued by multiple festering issues such as the border dispute and damaged further by last year’s military standoff near the Sikkim border.

It would also give an opportunity to Modi and Xi to chart a course for the future as they negotiate old and new differences.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s unannounced visit to China earlier this month fuelled speculation it was in connection with Modi’s bilateral visit.

Swaraj, who reached Beijing on Saturday night, is officially here to attend the SCO foreign ministers’ meet on Tuesday in the run-up to the bloc’s summit in the coastal city of Qingdao in June. India and Pakistan were admitted to the China-led bloc in 2017.

During her stay in Beijing, Swaraj is also expected to interact with the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman will also arrive here on April 23 to take part in the SCO defence ministers’ meeting the next day. Sitharaman is expected to meet her Chinese counterpart Lt Gen Wei Fenghe.

Swaraj’s visit to Beijing – the first after Wang’s promotion to the rank of state councillor last month – is being seen as a crucial component in efforts by the two giant neighbours to reboot ties following the considerable cooling due to the Doklam standoff.

The agenda for the SCO foreign ministers’ meet is broad and covers regional security and terrorism.

“As for the foreign ministers’ meeting on terrorism, I believe it is a purpose of the SCO to promote relevant cooperation in the field,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing on Friday.

“Security has been a priority of the SCO since its inception. So the upcoming SCO meeting will see participants exchanging views on the relevant issues. All participants will uphold the SCO spirit to take forward the development of SCO,” Hua said.

First Published: Apr 22, 2018 13:24 IST