Notwithstanding a standoff between their armies, India said today that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping shook hands and had a conversation on a ‘range of issues’ at an informal meeting of BRICS leaders here. The interaction between Modi and Xi took place on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, even as tensions remain high between India and China in the Sikkim section.
In a tweet, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said Modi and Xi discussed ‘a range of issues’ at the BRICS leaders' informal gathering in Hamburg ‘hosted by China’. He did not elaborate on the issues discussed. The ministry also tweeted a photograph of Modi and Xi shaking hands.
The informal interaction comes a day after a top Chinese foreign ministry official said the ‘atmosphere is not right’ for a formal bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi in Hamburg. The standoff between China and India in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction has dragged on for the past three weeks. It started after a Chinese Army's construction party attempted to build a road. Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.
Later, in an address to BRICS leaders, Modi ‘appreciated’ momentum in the bloc under the Chinese chairmanship and extended full cooperation for the grouping's upcoming summit to be hosted by Beijing. He also extended full cooperation and best wishes to China for the next BRICS summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen later this year.
"Under Xi's chairmanship, the progress and positive momentum of BRICS has further deepened our cooperation," Modi said.
Modi said BRICS has been a strong voice and needs to show leadership on terrorism and global economy, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs. It quoted Modi as saying that G20 nations should also ‘collectively oppose terrorism financing, franchises, safe havens, support and sponsors’.
In his speech, Xi also appreciated the momentum witnessed at the BRICS bloc during India's chairmanship before it was passed on to China, and praised India's strong resolve against terrorism, the press release said. It quoted Xi as saying he appreciates India's success in economic and social development and wishes India even bigger success.
Chinese official news agency Xinhua said Xi urged BRICS countries to push for ‘peaceful settlement’ of regional conflicts and disputes, and to consolidate the role of the G20 mechanism "as the premier platform for international economic cooperation."
The Xinhua report did not elaborate on what Xi meant by "regional disputes". Besides India and China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa are part of the BRICS grouping.