Modi-Xi bonhomie on full display as Wuhan summit gets underway

PTI Wuhan, Hubei, China Apr 27, 2018, 09.32 AM(IST)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed a cultural programme at Hubei Provincial Museum. Photograph:( ANI )

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are holding a friendly, informal and one-on-one conversations focussing on global, regional and bilateral issues at Hubei Provincial Museum in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday.  

The dialogue between two Asian powerhouses is expected to cement India-China ties although no agenda has been set up for the meeting.

Earlier Modi was accorded a red carpet welcome as Xi welcomed him with a handshake and cultural extravaganza for the 'informal summit'. 

This is PM Modi's fourth visit to China since he took over as prime minister of India. 

This is the first time both the leaders are meeting post-Doklam tensions.

The dialogue will be followed by talks between the two leaders accompanied by six top officials from each side. The two will have one-on-one dinner at the famous East Lake, a favourite holiday destination of China's revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.    

They will resume their one-on-one interaction tomorrow at 10 a.M (local time) with walks by the lakeside, boat ride and wind up their talks over lunch, official sources here said.

The two leaders began their informal meetings way back in 2014 when Xi was hosted by Modi at the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat. They have met and interacted with each other in about a dozen international meetings since then.

But this will be their "heart-to-heart" informal summit. There will be no agreement signed or a joint statement issued.

It is a summit, according to the officials, to forge consensus to resolve the issues with follow up actions by officials than announcing any agreements. This is something the leaders of the two countries have never tried so far, they said.

The details of the informal summit was not disclosed but officials said it included walks by the two leaders in the East Lake where they will have a boat ride and take walks just accompanied by their translators.

The summit is being seen as an effort by India and China to rebuild trust and improve ties that were hit by the 73-day-long Dokalam standoff last year among other contentious issues.

In a pre-departure statement, Prime Minister Modi said he and President Xi will review the developments in Sino-Indian relations from a strategic and long-term perspective.

"President Xi and I will exchange views on a range of issues of bilateral and global importance. We will discuss our respective visions and priorities for national development, particularly in the context of current and future international situation," Modi said.    

China's state media said the informal Xi-Modi meeting heralds a new chapter in Sino-Indian relations.

During the last year's Doklam standoff the two sides came close to war, an article in the state-run Global Times said.

It dragged Sino-Indian relations down to their lowest level since the 1962 Sino-Indian border War. Obviously, the Doklam standoff did not happen all of a sudden, but was the result of the accumulation of mistrust between the two countries," it said.

The Xi-Modi meeting in 2018 following the 2017 Dokalam standoff will, without doubt, promote mutual trust and reciprocity between the two countries, and will be a cornerstone of a stable long-term relationship between China and India," the article said. 

This will be the fourth visit of Modi to China after he came to power in 2014. He is again due to visit China to take part in the SCO summit to be held at Qingdao city on June 9-10.