Buzz over PM Modi-Xi Jinping meet on sidelines of BRICS Summit in South Africa
Johannesburg: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who landed in South Africa’s Johannesburg on Tuesday to attend a BRICS meeting, may meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit.
While PM Modi’s schedule is still being worked out, "We have a positive intent and an open mind when it comes to BRICS expansion," Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Monday, responding to queries about a possible meeting with Jinping.
The Indian prime minister will join China, Russia and hosts South Africa for the first in-person BRICS summit since 2019.
The last three were held online because of the COVID pandemic.
Relations between India and China became strained after a fierce clash occurred in Ladakh's Galwan Valley in June 2020, marking a major military conflict between the two nations in decades.
Following several discussions at both military and diplomatic levels, both sides successfully completed the process of disengagement in 2021.
However, India asserts that achieving normalcy in its relationship with China requires peace along the border regions.
Last month, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval held a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a BRICS nation gathering in Johannesburg.
During the meeting, the NSA highlighted the significance of ongoing efforts to completely resolve the situation and reinstate peace in the border regions.
If a bilateral meeting occurs between Prime Minister Modi and Xi Jinping, it will mark their first engagement since the beginning of the India-China border standoff in May 2020.
The two leaders briefly met last year in November during the G20 dinner hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Bali.
Prime Minister Modi's initial official engagement will commence at 4 pm local time (7.30 pm IST) during the BRICS' Business Forum Leaders' Dialogue.
At 4.30 pm, the Prime Minister is scheduled to address the assembly for a duration of 10 minutes. Following this, President Jinping is set to deliver a 10-minute address.
He will then participate in the BRICS Leaders Retreat, which will also involve Russian President Vladimir Putin through a video link.
The discussions during this retreat could encompass subjects like global developments and the expansion of BRICS membership.