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Modi, Xi launch 2nd informal summit with focus on trade, terror and challenges

MAMALLAPURAM (Tamil Nadu): PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on Friday at their second informal summit held by side of Bay of Bengal attempted to build bonhomie over new trade and counter-terror initiatives in the backdrop of Beijing’s tough posturing on the Kashmir issue at the behest of its all weather ally Pakistan.

The atmospherics in this heritage side appear to indicate attempts by Xi to give patient hearing to his host at their one on one meeting accompanied only by interpreters. The one-on-one dinner which was scheduled to end at 8 PM ended only around 10 PM as the two leaders remain engaged understandably on a host of issues including boundary, trade and counter-terrorism.

In a late night briefing Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale informed that the one on one dinner meeting last for 150 minutes and overall the two leaders spent five hours together. The two leaders discussed their respective national vision and governance initiatives. They focused on challenges with both being big and complex nations including trade volume and trade value in the context of trade deficit, Gokhale informed.

Modi and Xi are understood to have spoken at length about counter-terror initiatives and deradicalisation measures amid prevailing challenges faced by both nations. This is important ahead of FATF meet between Oct 13-18 in Paris that will decide whether Pakistan will be blacklisted or it will continue in Grey List.

Pakistan has attempted to further strengthen their narrative ahead of the summit through visits of both PM Imran Khan and Army Chief to Beijing earlier this week and Xi and his regime signaled full support to their all weather friend in what cast a shadow ahead of the Presidential trip.

There is disquiet in Delhi over repeated assertions by the Chinese foreign ministry on Kashmir at Pakistan’s behest since August 6. Reacting to Chinese statements during Khan’s trip, India made it clear that Kashmir is an internal matter.

It is understood that Modi assured Xi that granting union territory status (UT) to Ladakh will not adversely impact LAC even as he sought better understanding from Xi on India’s concerns over CPEC and Pakistan’s support to terrorism against India. The PM made it clear that decision to abrogate Article 370 was a sovereign function of his government.

China appears to be worried over the decision to grant UT status to Ladakh despite assurance from Jaishankar. The Chinese permanent representative in New York had raised the issue on August 16 at the United Nations Security Council closed-door informal session. Subsequently China has been insisting on addressing the Kashmir issue based on UN resolutions and even remarked on the human rights issue in Kashmir.

The two leaders have also understood to have focused on the Indo-Pacific region and prospective partnership the context of historical connect between Mamallapuram and the Chinese empires.

Shortly after Xi’s aircraft touched down in Chennai, government sources said the two leaders are expected to issue some directions at the end of the summit on Saturday as they did after the first edition of new format of engagement in Wuhan last year.

The two leaders will have around six-hours of one-on-one free-wheeling talks, officials said.

On Saturday morning, Modi and Xi will have a comprehensive one-on-one meeting to be followed by delegation level talks. Both sides will, then, issue separate statements on outcome of the summit.

Source: Economic Times