In a significant gesture, China on Tuesday invited India for the first time to attend the APEC summit that it will be hosting this year as Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping discussed the need for the two Asian giants to work together in international fora.
The surprise invitation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit came as Modi and Xi met in this seaside city of Brazil ahead of the BRICS Summit and held wide-ranging talks on an entire gamut of bilateral ties.
The meeting – first between the two leaders – was scheduled for 40 minutes but it went on for 80 minutes as it was a free-wheeling discussion without any constraints.
During the talks, Xi said China welcomes India to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The bank is a Chinese idea aired in last October to fund projects in Asia and China has reportedly said it would likely be the largest shareholder in the bank.
The invitation for the summit of the 21-nation APEC grouping, established in 1989, came in the context of the two leaders discussing the need for the two countries to work together in international platforms like BRICS and other fora.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “We think this is a significant gesture, this is an important invitation that has been extended to India, and this will be given very serious due consideration.”
Elaborating on the invite made during the bilateral meeting, Akbaruddin said, “President Xi also mentioned that China is hosting an APEC meeting in November this year. He said that meeting is focused on ‘partnership and connectivity’.”
“He (Xi) invited Prime Minister to attend this important APEC meeting that China is hosting…We did not get the dates but I think that is in November,” he said.
Pressed further on whether India would attend the APEC summit, Akbaruddin said, “It is normal in diplomatic parlance when invitations are immediately issued that we consider these because we need to check what the dates are, what will be the priorities during that. As you are aware, November is a very busy month – there is the G20 summit, there is the SAARC summit.”
“And of course this is an important invitation because this is the first time India has been invited to an APEC meeting. So, obviously we take this as a very serious and important invitation. However, no dates were mentioned. This is not for the President and Prime Minister of India to work these out. These will be worked out by diplomatic channels, and we will work on these,” he said.