India and China began delegation-level talks at a resort near Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu on Saturday morning. India’s delegation included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale. Xi left for Nepal after the summit.
Modi said the Wuhan summit last year had led to a “new momentum and trust” in India-China relations, and that the “Chennai connect” would be the start of a new era in India-China cooperation. He noted that China and Tamil Nadu had deep cultural and trade relations.
“The first informal summit between India and China last year in Wuhan led to fresh stability in our relations and gave a fresh momentum,” he added. “Strategic communication between our two countries has also increased.”
“The Wuhan spirit instilled a new momentum and trust in our relations and today’s ‘Chennai connect’ is the start of a new era in India-China relations,” Modi added. “We had decided to prudently manage differences and not to allow them to become disputes. We had decided that we will be sensitive towards each other’s concerns.”
Xi Jinping thanked Modi for the hospitality extended to the Chinese delegation. “Yesterday prime minister as you said, you and I had engaged in candid conversations like friends, heart to heart discussions on bilateral relations,” Xi said. “We are really overwhelmed by your hospitality. My colleagues and I have felt that very strongly. This will be a memorable experience for me and us.”
Modi also gifted Xi a handwoven portrait of the Chinese president, ANI reported. The portrait was created by weavers of Sri Ramalinga Sowdambigai Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society in Sirumugaipudur in Coimbatore district.
Providing a summary of the meeting, Vijay Gokhale said: “The two leaders today had a conversation for almost 90 minutes, followed by delegation-level talks and then lunch was hosted by Modi. A total of six hours of one-to-one meeting was held between the two leaders during this summit.”
“A new mechanism will be established to discuss trade, investment and services, at an elevated level,” Gokhale said. “From China it will be the Vice Premier Hu Chunhua and from India it will be Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.”
On Friday, Xi and Modi had held discussions for nearly two and a half hours over dinner. They discussed terrorism, bilateral relations, investments and trade among several topics, with the Ministry of External Affairs describing the first day of the informal summit as “highly productive”. The two leaders had pledged to together ensure that radicalisation and terrorism do not affect the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies of China and India.
The dinner took place in the Shore Temple complex after attending a cultural show there. Earlier in the evening, Modi had received Xi at the Arjuna’s Penance monument, after which they visited Krishna’s Butter Ball and the Five Chariots complex. Monuments in the historical Mamallapuram town form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Earlier this week, India was upset with China after Xi, in a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing, said China was keeping a watch on the situation in Kashmir. India had said Kashmir was its internal matter and not for others to comment on. There was no official word on whether the topic came up during the discussions on Friday.
This is the second informal summit between the two leaders after the one in Wuhan city of China in April 2018.