Xi Jinping accepts PM Modi’s invitation for informal summit in India in 2019
PM Modi had detailed discussions with President Xi Jinping on bilateral and global issues which will add further vigour to the India-China friendship.Updated: Jun 09, 2018 22:30 IST
India and China on Saturday agreed on measures to build on the consensus achieved by their leaders during recent talks in Wuhan, including the next informal summit to be held in India in 2019 and steps to maintain peace along the disputed border.
President Xi Jinping accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to visit India for the next informal summit. They also agreed – as decided during their first informal summit at Wuhan in April – to maintain strategic communications through various channels, including telephone calls and frequent meetings on the sidelines of multilateral events.
Xi’s visit will be preceded by a flurry of high-level meetings this year, including meetings between the foreign, defence and home ministers and the national security advisers. The Special Representatives on the border issue will also meet this year.
Following the meeting between Modi and Xi on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in the coastal city of Qingdao, the two sides signed agreements on China providing hydrological information for the Brahmaputra river and on exporting rice from India.
Describing the nearly hour-long meeting as “substantial” and “forward looking”, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said both leaders made a very positive assessment of developments since they last met in the central city of Wuhan during April 28-29.
Ties between the two neighbours had nosedived following last year’s military standoff at Doklam and also due to several other issues, including China blocking a move to sanction Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar at the UN Security council and Beijing’s opposition to New Delhi’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Both sides have said the Wuhan summit helped put the troubled relationship back on an even keel. During his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 1, Modi had talked about working closely with China and said an “Asia of cooperation” could shape this century.
Though new and old contentious issues remain, there has been a turnaround in bilateral ties since the military standoff was resolved last August.
Tweeting about Saturday’s meeting, China’s envoy to India, Luo Zhaohui, said Xi and Modi had discussed the “implementation of Wuhan consensus and drawing (up a) blueprint for future China-India relations”.
The Indian foreign secretary agreed, saying the talks were “underpinned by the spirit of the Wuhan summit”.
“One of the important outcomes of today’s meeting was that the Chinese side conveyed that they accepted (Modi’s) invitation to President Xi Jinping to have a similar informal summit in India in 2019,” he said.
On the border dispute, Gokhale said Modi and Xi agreed that under the Special Representatives mechanism, National Security Adviser AK Doval and China’s foreign minister Wang Yi will meet later this year.
They agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity along the border and continuing strategic communications on the issue. The two militaries will continue to talk to each other to maintain peace, Gokhale said.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will head a new mechanism to oversee people-to-people contacts, and will soon meet to discuss details.
Gokhale said Xi referred to the growing popularity of Indian films and not only spoke about the success of the movie Dangal in China, but also mentioned that Baahubali 2 and other Hindi movies had done well in the country.
The two leaders also agreed on increasing bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2020, and Xi said China is ready to enhance agricultural imports from India.
To that end, one of the agreements signed on Saturday amended the 2006 protocol on phytosanitary requirements for exporting rice from India to include the export of non-basmati varieties of rice.
The other MoU enables the Chinese side to provide hydrological data on the Brahmaputra during the flood season from May 15 to October 15 every year. It also enables China to provide data if the water level exceeds a mutually agreed level during the non-flood season. India had said last year that China did not stick to an agreement to share hydrological data, or scientific information on the movement and quality of water, for the Brahmaputra.
The two leaders also discussed China importing “high quality pharmaceutical products” from India. Xi said China will encourage Indian companies to register in China for exports.
“(Modi) also conveyed to President Xi Jinping our readiness to permit the Bank of China to establish a branch office in Mumbai,” Gokhale said.
Taking forward a decision made at Wuhan to work jointly on a developmental project in war-torn Afghanistan, the two leaders agreed to identify a “capacity building” project.
“On Afghanistan, there was a brief discussion on the projects. One of the outcomes of today’s meeting is that we have agreed we will move forward in identifying a specific project initially in the area of capacity building,” Gokhale said.
“So, we have to begin the process of identifying it (the project),” he added.
This was the 14th meeting between the two leaders over the past four years. Modi arrived here on Saturday afternoon for a two-day visit to attend the annual SCO Summit.
Xi called the Wuhan summit “a new starting point of bilateral relations” and Modi concurred, saying it was a “milestone”. The leaders agreed the Wuhan summit had helped develop mutual trust and understanding and take the relationship in a positive direction.