Mamallapuram (TN): Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a two-and-a-half hour “pleasant conversation” over dinner on Friday, resolving to further energise bilateral development partnership and insulating the overall ties from differences over contentious issues.
The meeting at the magnificent Shore temple complex under a sea-facing colourful tent in this coastal town continued much beyond the schedule time as both leaders, helped by two interpreters, touched upon a range of issues, including complex ones, over sumptuous local Tamil delicacies, sources said.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar described the engagement between Modi and Xi on the first day of the informal summit as “highly productive”.
“Concluding a highly productive day with a pleasant conversation over a long dinner. PM @narendramodi & Chinese President Xi continued their exchange of views on deepening of the India-China partnership over a breathtaking Kalakshetra cultural performance followed by dinner,” Kumar tweeted.
There was no official confirmation whether Modi and Xi discussed the Kashmir issue which somehow strained ties between the two countries and even overshadowed Xi’s trip to this coastal town. It is widely speculated that the issue found mention in the conversation between the two leaders over dinner.
In a tweet following the dinner, Modi said he was delighted to spend time with Xi.
“Mamallapuram is one of the most beautiful places in India, full of vibrancy. It is linked to commerce, spirituality and is now a popular tourism centre. I am delighted that President Xi Jinping and I are spending time in this scenic place, which is also a @UNESCO heritage site,” he said.
The sources said both Xi and Modi resolved to further energise bilateral development partnership and insulating the overall ties from differences over contentious issues.
In the late afternoon, Modi and Xi sipped coconut water and engaged in casual interaction in a serene setting in the backdrop of 7th century rock-cut chariots of Pancha Ratha overlooking the Bay of Bengal.
Modi, dressed in a Tamil attire of ‘Veshti’ (dhoti), white shirt and an ‘angavastram’ (shawl), took Xi for a guided tour of the famous world heritage sites of Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna’s Butterball, the Pancha Ratha and Shore temple in this ancient temple town, kicking off the second informal summit between the two leaders.
“The free flowing nature of the informal summit at the UNESCO world heritage site will continue and deepen contacts at the highest level and guide the future trajectory of India-China relationship,” the MEA Spokesperson tweeted.
Xi’s visit to India comes two days after he held talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing. After the talks, a joint statement said China is paying “close attention” to the situation in Kashmir and that the issue should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter. The comments evoked sharp reaction from New Delhi.