Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations next year, PTI reported, citing an official statement. Bolsonaro accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation on Wednesday when they met on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Brasilia.

On Wednesday, Modi and Bolsonaro spoke about diversifying cooperation and held “fruitful talks” to strengthen bilateral ties. “Both leaders agreed that on this occasion, the two countries can comprehensively enhance our strategic partnership,” a statement said.

During their meeting, Modi said India and Brazil could improve trade relations, increase investment in agricultural equipment, animal husbandry, post-harvest technologies and biofuels, and boost cooperation including space and defence sectors. The Brazilian president on his part said that a large business delegation will accompany him to India.

Modi also welcomed Bolsonaro’s decision to grant visa-free travel to Indian citizens. The far-right politician had first announced it in October during an official visit to China. This was the first time he had announced such a move for developing countries.

This is the 11th BRICS summit. The focus this time is to build mechanisms for counter-terrorism and strengthen ties among the five major economies. The theme of the summit is “Economic growth for the future”.

‘New direction and new energy in bilateral ties with China’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there has been a “new direction and new energy” in bilateral ties with China when he met President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. The two leaders discussed ways to further strengthen relations.

“I am glad to meet you once again,” Modi told Xi, according to PTI. The two leaders had last met in Chennai in October. “As you said and I believe that our meeting in Chennai gave our journey a new direction and new energy. Without any agenda, we talked about each other’s issues, global situations... these have been very successful.”

The meeting between Modi and Xi comes days after India said it will not participate in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free trade agreement among 16 Asia-Pacific countries that aims to reduce tariffs and duties for member countries so that goods and services can flow freely. It will become the world’s largest trade bloc when created. India fears, among other things, a potential flood of Chinese imports after the barriers are demolished.