PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping spent quality time in Mamallapuram over dinner and discussed a range of issues, says Vijay Gokhale
Gokhale said Modi and Xi felt terrorism and radicalisation are common challenges and both the sides will work together to overcome it
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Chinese president Xi Jinping on Friday discussed two thorny issues in bilateral relations – ways to narrow the trade gap between India and China and eradicate terrorism with an agreement to join hands to fight radicalisation — during talks on the first day of their second informal summit in Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the two leaders, meeting more than a year after their first informal summit in Wuhan in April 2018, had “very open" and “cordial" talks mainly over dinner that stretched to two-and-a-half hours – far exceeding the originally allotted time.
“PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping spent quality time over dinner and discussed a range of issues. Broadly, today’s discussions focussed on the national visions and on how to progress bilateral relations," Gokhale said. Modi had spoken of the renewed mandate that he had received in the April-May polls for economic development. Xi on his part said that he was looking forward to working closely with prime minister on all issues in the next four and a half years, Gokhale said.
The meeting in Mamallapuram is the third between the two leaders since Modi’s re-election as prime minister in May and the sixth since Modi and Xi sat down for their first informal summit in Wuhan last April.
Xi arrived in Mamallapuram on Friday afternoon and was welcomed at Mamallapuram by prime minister Narendra Modi. Modi took Xi to three iconic monuments in Mamallapuram -- Arjuna's Penance, Panch Rathas and the Shore temple. The monuments date back to the Pallava era (4th to 9th century) and one of the reasons for choosing Mamallapuram was to highlight the contacts between the Pallava kings and China’s Fujian province where Xi served as governor once.
Gokhale said Modi and Xi had spoken of the historical and trading links between India and China during the reign of the (4th-9th CE) Pallava and Chola dynasties. Xi had said that some artifacts with possibily Tamil inscriptions had been found in Fujian province and there was some discussion between the leaders on how to expand knowledge of this aspect of bilateral relations, Gokhale said.
Modi explained to Xi that, Gokhale said, “India like China is a civilisation with long and continuous history".
Discussions over dinner touched on trade and terrorism and radicalisation, Gokhale said.
“There was some discussion on trade," he said adding that this was about identifying areas for China to invest in India and to “enhance the trade volume and the trade value." In this context, India’s trade deficit with China stood at $57 billion in 2018-19, was also discussed, he said.
“There was an acknowledgement that both countries are very complex and very diverse. Both leaders said that these were large countries and that radicalisation was a matter of concern to both and that both would work together to see that radicalisation and terrorism did not affect the fabric of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi religious societies," he said. Both leaders agreed that this was a “common challenge that we face and we will work together to overcome it," Gokhale said.
India has watched warily at Islamabad’s good friend China turning a blind eye to support given by Pakistan to anti-India terrorist groups and individuals like Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Attempts to get Azhar designated a terrorist under UN norms was blocked by China multiple times before it finally went through in May this year. China-Pakistan ties have been a matter of concern for India often adding to the air of mistrust between the two countries.