The first day of the Indo-China informal summit which was on Friday was chapped by the private dinner between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping. It lasted for more than double the scheduled duration which is an indication that both sides were making efforts to work out differences that have recently strained ties.
Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi welcomed Xi after he drove in a motorcade to this seaside resort at about 5 pm and took the Chinese leader around several monuments at a 1,400-year-old temple complex. Further, they watched a cultural program before going into the dinner at the Shore Temple complex, where the leaders were seated at a separate table with interpreters while their aides sat at a different location.
Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale while briefing the media after the two leaders concluded their discussions on the first day of the summit, said: “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.”
Even before the dinner, Modi and Xi had a conversation, at the Pancha Ratha, a monument with five chariots hewn out of the solid rock, that lasted almost 15 minutes, with only their translators present. They continued their conversation as they strolled near the Shore Temple, the last of the monuments they visited at Mamallapuram.
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”.
Further, Gokhale said the two leaders discussed the issue of radicalization. “Radicalisation was a matter of concern to both and both will work together to see that radicalization and terrorism did not affect the fabric of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies,” The foreign secretary did not mention that the leaders spoke about the Kashmir issue, which India has maintained is an internal matter.
“Both leaders like the unstructured format of the informal summit and both sides are aware there is a lot riding on this relationship,” said an official who asked not to be named.
The people cited above shared that the two leaders were expected to spend a total of about six hours together over Friday and Saturday but the duration of their interactions on the first day had exceeded the scheduled timings. On Saturday, Modi and Xi will have another one-on-one meeting at Fisherman’s Cove, about 25km from the temple complex where they met on Friday. They will then hold delegation-level talks before having another opportunity to talk one-on-one at a lunch to be hosted by Modi.
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