Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra did not call it a bilateral meeting but said the conversation captured the sense of the relationship as PM highlighted India’s concerns over the “unresolved issues’’ along the LAC and both leaders agreed to work towards early disengagement and de-escalation.
Modi and Xi, who last had a bilateral meeting in November 2019, spoke at the Bali G20 summit too last year. However, while they agreed in Bali it was important to improve ties, the PM on this occasion went a step further and reiterated India’s position, expounded so far by foreign minister S Jaishankar and government officials, that there has to be peace at the border for the relationship to return to normal.
Open to expanding BRICS membership, but with consensus and after finalising criteria: PM Narendra Modi
“In this regard, they agreed to direct their relevant officials to intensify efforts for expeditious disengagement and de-escalation,’’ said Kwatra, in a media briefing.
“He underlined that the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas and observing and respecting the LAC are essential for the normalization of the relationship,’’ he added.
Rahul Gandhi: China’s army has entered Ladakh, locals lost their grazing land
Kwatra did not respond to a question on whether Modi reiterated the invite to Xi for the G20 summit next month or whether Xi indicated to Modi that he was going to travel to India for the meeting. It’s also not clear yet which side proposed the conversation that took place on Wednesday amid renewed efforts to take forward the disengagement process.
In the run up to the summit, India and China held the 19th round of military talks to end the standoff in eastern Ladakh that started in April 2020. The talks did not lead to a breakthrough but the positively worded joint statement, calling the talks constructive, had raised hopes of a meeting between the 2 leaders.
Military talks have continued and both sides are hopeful of a positive development ahead of the G20 summit that India will host on September 9-10. Despite the bilateral differences, India would also ideally like Xi to come for what is the most significant multilateral event it will host in decades, if not ever. Johannesburg was also the third time Modi and Xi came face to face since the Galwan military clash in June 2020, after the SCO summit in Samarkand last year and G20 Bali summit. Significantly, India lost no time Thursday in confirming the Modi-Xi conversation, unlike the Bali talks that were acknowledged by India only after 8 months and also after China made it public.
On Thursday, Modi and Xi were also seen shaking hands and exchanging a few words while taking their respective seats at a media event where BRICS expansion was announced. Xi was also seen clapping when South African President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated Modi for the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 at the event.
Watch Open to expanding BRICS membership, but with consensus and after finalising criteria: PM Narendra Modi