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Friday, October 30, 2020

Modi, Xi at BRICS table in Nov, first meet since standoff

Russia, which currently holds the BRICS chair, announced Monday that the 12th BRICS Summit — of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — is going to be held via video conference.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | October 6, 2020 3:36:55 am
Modi, Xi at BRICS table in Nov, first meet since standoffModi and Xi, who have met at least 18 times in the last six years, have not spoken to each other or met since the border standoff. (PTI file photo)

In what could be the first interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping since the start of the border standoff in Ladakh this May, the two leaders are scheduled to attend the BRICS summit meeting via virtual mode on November 17.

Russia, which currently holds the BRICS chair, announced Monday that the 12th BRICS Summit — of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — is going to be held via video conference.

Modi and Xi, who have met at least 18 times in the last six years, have not spoken to each other or met since the border standoff.

No meeting or phone call between the two leaders is scheduled before November 17 although the possibility of a conversation, sources said, could not be ruled out completely.

They last shared a platform on March 26 when Saudi Arabia held an extraordinary virtual gathering of G-20 leaders over the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, Modi and Xi will have another opportunity to share the G-20 platform — also via video conference — on November 21-22. The annual G-20 summit will be held four days after the BRICS summit.

Sources said the scheduling of the BRICS summit could be an opportunity to resolve the standoff, since the two sides would like to settle the issue before November 17.

“It has been five months since the standoff began, and in Moscow last month, the Foreign Ministers adopted a five-pronged approach to disengage and de-escalate early. But there has been no progress in disengagement since then, although there has been no escalation either. We will have to see if the intent to disengage is there or not in the coming weeks,” a source told The Indian Express.

Incidentally, the two-and-half-month-long Doklam border standoff between Indian and Chinese troops was resolved just ahead of the BRICS summit in Xiamen in September 2017.

The Chumar standoff in September 2014 also ended after Modi raised the issue with Xi who was visiting Ahmedabad.

Announcing the BRICS summit, Russia said the theme of the meeting this year is “BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth”.

It said the five countries have continued “close strategic partnership on all the three major pillars: peace and security, economy and finance, cultural and people-to-people exchanges”.

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