Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will on Tuesday hold their first substantive bilateral meeting after the Doklam standoff, which had put ties between the two South Asian giants under strain. Officials at External Affairs Ministry today said that Modi will meet Xi at 12.30 pm (10 am IST) on Tuesday. The meeting with Chinese leader will be Modi’s last official engagement before he departs to Myanmar on a bilateral visit. Modi had arrived here on Sunday and attended the BRICS Summit in Xiamen on Monday.
During the meeting, which is taking place amid efforts from the two sides to leave the bitterness caused by the 73-day face-off between their troops in Doklam in the Sikkim sector, sources said the two leaders are expected to discuss ways to create confidence building measures.
However, they refused to divulge details about the issues to be discussed.
The sense is that both countries want to "move on" after the standoff.
The Chinese and the Indian troops were engaged in a standoff since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the construction of a road by the Chinese Army.
On August 28, External Affairs Ministry announced that New Delhi and Beijing have decided on "expeditious disengagement" of their border troops in the disputed Doklam area.
Asked if there was any link between the BRICS declaration which for the first time named Pakistan-based terror groups for their violent activities and resolution of the Doklam standoff, Secretary (East) in the MEA Preeti Saran answered in the negative, saying BRICS is a multilateral forum where outcomes are based on consensus.
"It cannot be linked," she added.
Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang told the media in Beijing that "details of the meeting we will release in due course."
Geng also evaded a direct answer to a question whether the recent bilateral tensions over Dokalam standoff would figure in the talks between the two leaders.
India's diplomatic win
Prime Minister Modi's visit to the BRICS Summit in Xiamen came days after both India and China agreed to expedetiously resolve the border crisis at Doklam. While this was being seen as a climbdown by Beijing, what folllowed after PM Modi's touchdown in Xiamen has been equally substantial from India's point of view.
Sources said that as the two leaders meet today, the Doklam issue is unlikely to feature on the agenda. Instead, both countries will focus on rebuilding ties after the border impasse. Considering the rhetoric that the Chinese media had built up, this is a significant step ahead in relations beyween the two neighbouring countries.
The biggest takeaway for India from the BRICS Summit so far is getting China to agree to naming Pakistan-based terror groups Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba in the BRICS declaration. This was substantial not just in view of India's continuous efforts to turn the focus on Pakistan and the terror that emanates from its soil, but also in view of China's stand with respect to its 'all-weather ally'.
China has so far managed to scuttle all attempts by India to get Masood Azhar designated as a terrorst at the United Nations. Though China refuses to comment directly on the Azhar issue, its latest stand does indicate that it may well ask Pakistan to get cracking against terror groups based in its country.
Apart from Xi, Modi will also hold a bilateral meeting with the President of Egypt, which is among the five counties -- Mexico, Guinea, Thailand and Tajikistan -- invited by China as part of 'BRICS Plus' outreach exercise.
(With PTI inputs)