LESS THAN a month after being re-elected to office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have his first bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday afternoon, shortly after his arrival.
The meeting is scheduled at 4.30 pm (4 pm IST) and a time slot of 45 minutes has been allotted.
This will be the first of at least two occasions where the two leaders are likely to meet in June. They are again likely to meet during the G-20 summit on June 28-29 when the two sides are likely to hold Russia-India-China trilateral as well as BRICS informal meeting.
Buoyed by the success at the United Nations where Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar was listed as a global terrorist after China lifted the technical hold, Modi and Xi are likely to “tap into the goodwill” created by the Chinese move.
Sources said that the two sides are looking towards taking steps to an informal summit later this year, after the Wuhan summit in April 2018. New Delhi has proposed Varanasi as a possible venue and the meet is likely to be held on October 11 this year.
Sources said Beijing is keen to break the circle of ups and downs in the bilateral ties, as the two countries will be celebrating the 70th year of diplomatic relationship next year.
“The challenge is how to break this negative circle. We have to shape the relationship, and not just manage the relationship,” a top source told The Indian Express, ahead of the Modi-Xi meeting on Thursday.
New Delhi and Beijing have shown some amount of maturity in the past one year after Wuhan, as the two leaders gave strategic guidance to the militaries and the desire is quite clear on maintaining peace and tranquility along the border.
Last year, after the Wuhan summit, three top Chinese ministers at the rank of Vice Premier visited India — Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and Public Security Minister (equivalent to Home Minister in India). The idea is to keep up the momentum this year as well, and that will be discussed during the Modi-Xi bilateral meeting.
China wants to show that with the unpredictable US administration under President Donald Trump, the issues of anti-globalisation, trade protectionism, civilisational conflicts have come to the fore and China and India share a lot of similarities, so they should use them to enhance cooperation. Sources said some amount of discussion on this issue will be part of the SCO forum, but there is a possibility that the Chinese side will raise these issues bilaterally as well.