Modi, Xi meet at BRICS, third informal summit in China next year: ‘New direction, new energy’

Shubhajit Roy
Narendra Modi with Cyril Ramaphosa, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia on Thursday. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Brasilia on Wednesday, said there has been a “new direction and new energy” in bilateral ties after their second informal summit in Mahabalipuram. Xi has invited Modi for their third informal summit next year.

The two leaders agreed that the new ‘high-level mechanism on trade and economy’, decided at the Mahabalipuram summit, should meet at an early date. This was one of the key outcomes of the second informal summit last month.

They also noted that the special representatives will hold another meeting on issues related to the boundary question and reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and security in the border areas. A meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, which was expected to take place in September, was deferred.

EXPLAINED | What BRICS means for India in the global order

While the two leaders discussed ways to further strengthen India-China relations, including on the trade front, they also discussed the RCEP, according to an Indian government statement. India has refused to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, and a key reason is the fear of Chinese imports flooding the Indian market.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with other world leaders at 11th BRICS Summit in Brazil. (ANI)

Modi, who is in Brazil for the 11th BRICS Summit which will focus on building mechanisms for counter-terrorism cooperation and strengthening India’s ties with the world’s major economies, met Xi on the sidelines of the summit.

“I am glad to meet you once again. When I look back, we met for the first time in Brazil itself... our journey began. The journey of unknown people has today turned into a close friendship. We have since then met in many forums, bilaterals, you visited my home state, took me to your village, you came to receive me outside Beijing in Wuhan... It is such a significant thing that within the five years, there has been so much trust and friendly relations,” Modi told Xi.

The two leaders first met in July 2014, when Modi travelled to Fortaleza in Brazil for the BRICS summit.

“As you said, and I believe, that our meeting in Chennai gave our journey a new direction and new energy. Without any agenda, we talked about each other’s issues, global situations... these have been very successful,” Modi said.

Xi told Modi he was willing to maintain close communication “to guide a better and more stable development of China-India relations.” They should “increase political mutual trust, properly manage differences and expand practical cooperation so as to guide a better and more stable development of bilateral ties,” Xi said, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement released on Thursday.

“2020 will be here soon, and I hope China-India relations will achieve new and greater development in the new year,” the statement quoted Xi as saying. “I welcome you to come to China for another meeting next year.”

Both India and China’s statements made no mention of Kashmir.

“Held talks with President Xi Jinping. Several subjects pertaining to deepening bilateral cooperation were discussed... Today’s discussions will add new vigour to India-China relations,” Modi tweeted.

During the talks, Xi conveyed his appreciation to Modi for hosting him in Mahabalipuram, said an MEA statement. He invited Modi for the third informal summit in China in 2020, the date and venue for which will be determined through diplomatic channels, the statement said.

Xi thanked Modi for India’’s “substantial participation” in the just concluded China Import Export Expo in Shanghai, the MEA statement said. “The leaders also exchanged views on multilateral issues including WTO, BRICS and RCEP,” it said.

The two leaders reviewed preparations for celebrating the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year and agreed that this would enhance people-to-people relations, it said.