Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to visit India later this year for an informal summit, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek.
After their meeting, Modi said he had “an extremely fruitful meeting” with Xi. “Our talks included the full spectrum of India-China relations,” the prime minister said on Twitter. “We shall continue working together to improve economic and cultural ties between our nations.”
Gokhale said the prime minister had specifically conveyed to Xi that both sides need to raise expectations from the relationship.
Modi also raised the problem of cross-border terrorism emanating from neighboring Pakistan during his talks with Xi. He said India expects “concrete action” by Islamabad to create an atmosphere free of terror to resume dialogue with Pakistan. “Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free of terror, but at this stage we do not see it happening,” Gokhale quote the prime minister as saying, according to PTI. “We expect Islamabad to take concrete action.”
The meeting between the two leaders began with Xi congratulating Modi over his election victory. Modi on behalf of all Indians also wished Xi who will turn 66-years-old on June 15.
“After our meeting in Wuhan, we have seen a new momentum and stability in our relations,” Modi said in his opening remarks. “There has been a rapid progress in the strategic communication between the two sides, leading to be more sensitive towards each other’s concerns and interests. And there has been new areas for further cooperation since then.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is also in Kyrgyzstan capital to attend the SCO summit and will meet Xi.
The meeting between two leaders came a month after China lifted its technical hold on the United Nations listing Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. It was a huge diplomatic victory for India after a decade of relentless efforts to ban Azhar, whose group was responsible for the February 14 Pulwama attack on Indian security forces.
“PM noted what had improved between two sides is strategic communication, and in that context we have been able to resolve long-pending issues such as opening of Bank of China branch in India and the issue related to listing of Masood Azhar,” Gokhale added.
Ahead of the meeting, China had hinted that Xi would highlight the need to forge a united front against United States President Donald Trump’s policies of trade protectionism and unilateralism using tariffs as a weapon, PTI reported.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have been high for several months now because of a bitter trade war. India is also facing trade frictions with United States after termination of its “beneficiary developing country” status.
Modi and Xi have met more than 10 times in the last five years, including three times after their informal summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan in April 2018, The first meeting after Wuhan came at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit last June in China’s Qingdao city, the second time at the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in the city of Johannesburg in South Africa in July, and third time in December on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina.
The Wuhan summit was largely credited to have turned around the bilateral ties that took a hit in 2017 after the 73-day Doklam standoff, which was triggered by the attempts of Chinese troops to build a road close to Indian border in an area also claimed by Bhutan. After the summit, both the countries stepped up efforts to improve relations on different spheres including the military-to-military ties.
Before departing for the summit, Modi said on Wednesday that India attaches “special importance to SCO in promoting multilateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction in the region”. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a eight-member economic and security bloc led by China. India and Pakistan were admitted to the group in 2017.
He will be on an official bilateral visit to the Kyrgyz Republic on June 14 after the conclusion of the summit. He is scheduled to address the first meeting of India-Kyrgyz Business Forum.