PM Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping hold substantive talks, agree to hold informal summit in India in 2019


QINGDAO: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday resolved to take forward the positive momentum in bilateral ties after holding “very substantive” talks during which they also agreed to hold the next informal summit in India next year.

The two Asian leaders also agreed to continue efforts to ensure peace and tranquillity along the border.

President Xi Jinping accepted PM Modi’s invitation for a Wuhan-style informal summit in India next year, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale later confirmed in a press briefing.

The two leaders had their first informal summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan on April 27-28 to solidify the relationship in a broad spectrum of areas and ensuring better coordination between the border guarding forces of the two countries after the Dokalam standoff.

Prime Minister Modi had detailed discussions with President Xi on bilateral and global issues which will add further vigour to the India-China friendship.

The two leaders also decided to set up a new mechanism for people-to-people cooperation to build on the momentum in bilateral ties from their unprecedented informal summit in Wuhan nearly six weeks back.

The meeting took place ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit and covered key aspects of the bilateral engagement, reflecting the resolve by the two countries to reset relations and bring back trust in their ties, hit by the Doklam standoff and several other thorny issues.

“Met this year’s SCO host, President Xi Jinping this evening. We had detailed discussions on bilateral and global issues. Our talks will add further vigour to the India-China friendship,” Modi tweeted after the meeting.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said one of the important outcomes of today’s meeting was that the Chinese side accepted Prime Minister’s invitation to President Xi to come to India for an informal summit next year, similar to the one held by the two leaders in Wuhan on April 27-28.

Xi conveyed to India that China’s Defence Minister and Minister of Public security, who is equivalent to Indian Home Minister, will visit New Delhi this year.

Sharing some aspects of the nearly 50-minute meeting, the foreign secretary said Xi described the Wuhan summit as a “new starting point” in bilateral relations between the two countries while Prime Minister called it as a “milestone” in ties which will help in developing mutual understanding and trust.

Gokhale said the meeting had a “very positive forward-looking momentum” which was underpinned by the spirit of the Wuhan summit.

“It was a very substantive meeting. And both leaders made very positive assessment of the Wuhan summit,” he said, adding both the leaders agreed to keep open the strategic communication.

The two leaders also deliberated on initiating a joint project in Afghanistan which will be in the sphere of capacity building.

President Xi said their Wuhan meeting had been well received by both countries and the international community, and a positive atmosphere is taking shape to pay close attention to and support the development of China-India relations.

Talking about the outcome of the meeting, Gokhale said both the sides agreed to set up a new people to people mechanism to enhance cooperation in several areas such as art and culture.

“On the Indian side, it will be headed by the EAM Sushma Swaraj while on the Chinese side, it will be headed by State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The first meeting of this mechanism will be held this year,” he said. In this context, Xi also referred to growing popularity of Indian films in China and particularly mentioned about films Dangal and Bahubali.

The two leaders covered issues relating to peace and tranquillity along the boundary and agreed that militaries on the two sides will continue to talk to each other to maintain peace, said Gokhale calling the meeting “very positive and forward-looking”.