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BRICS Summit: Is PM Modi and Xi Jinping bilateral meeting on border disputes on cards? Centre replies

While addressing a special press conference on Monday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra gave a cryptic reply to the reporters who asked him about the possibility of PM Modi meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ajeet Kumar Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Updated on: August 22, 2023 10:15 IST
Indian PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping
Image Source : AP Indian PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has departed for South Africa's national capital to attend the much-awaited 15th BRICS Summit but the whole world is eying whether the leaders of the two asian giants will hold any bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the mega event. 

"I am visiting the Republic of South Africa from 22-24 August 2023 at the invitation Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, to attend the 15th BRICS Summit being held in Johannesburg under the South African Chairmanship," Prime Minister's Office said in a statement released just an hour before his departure from Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI), New Delhi.

While addressing a special press conference on Monday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra gave a cryptic reply to the reporters who asked him about the possibility of PM Modi meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He did not give a direct reply on the possibility of a meeting but instead said that the schedule of the Prime Minister's bilateral meetings is being finalised.

Notably, both sides have not sat together ever since a clash broke out between the Indian Army and China's PLA in 2020. During the violent clash, at least 20 Indian soldiers were martyred but Beijing did not provide any details of casualties.

If the bilateral meeting takes place, it will be their first since the India-China border standoff began.

PM Modi and Xi had a brief interaction on the Galwan clash last year 

When the leaders met during the G20 Summit in Bali last year, they had a brief interaction. Initially, the Ministry of External Affairs denied both leaders discussed any issues and called the meeting a "welcome gesture". However, earlier last month, the ministry confirmed that PM Modi and the Chinese President had discussed border issues when they met briefly at the Bali Summit.

, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that both of them exchanged courtesies and spoke of the need to stabilize bilateral relationships or relations. "During the Bali G20 Summit last year, Prime Minister and President Xi Jinping, at the conclusion of the dinner hosted by the Indonesian President, exchanged courtesies and spoke of the need to stabilize our bilateral relations," Bagchi said in a regular press conference.

"I think Foreign Secretary did mention maybe he didn't mention the second part of it. He did talk about exchanging courtesies and I think there was a general discussion or spoke of the need to stabilize our bilateral relationship or relations," he added.

Why Chinese statement come as a big surprise for India?

It is worth mentioning that the meeting between New Delhi and Beijing is considered crucial amid the fact the two nations engaged in a deadly clash in Ladakh in May 2020. Nevertheless, holding multiple meetings with commanders and defence ministers of both sides, the issue betwixt is still unsettled.

Although the two world leaders held a series of meetings including when the duo met at a seaside resort at Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu in October 2019, a bilateral meeting on the sideline of the BRICS summit in Brasilia in November 2019, they did not hold any bilateral meeting after a deadly border clash. 

Also, they had attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s summit at Samarkand in Uzbekistan last year, and neither did they hold any bilateral meeting on the sideline of the mega event.

Also Read: PM Modi departs for South Africa's Johannesburg to attend BRICS Summit I India's key expectations

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