Monday, 30th October 2017

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Summit without agenda

The Narendra Modi dispensation appears politically keen on reining in expectations on the Prime Minister's summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the central China city of Wuhan later this week.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 25.04.18
  •  
Modi

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi dispensation appears politically keen on reining in expectations on the Prime Minister's summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the central China city of Wuhan later this week.

Evidently stung by the criticism of falling short on the promises made not just during the BJP's Lok Sabha election campaign but also in government, an effort is afoot to manage expectations from the Modi-Xi meeting on Friday and Saturday. Consequently, the build-up normally associated with any action of Prime Minister Modi is missing this time round.

No pre-negotiated agreements have been lined up for inking after the summit as is otherwise the routine for such meetings. "The objective of this meeting is not to come out with an agreed set of documents but to have a direct communication on a wide range of issues to understand each other's positions," a source said. By all indications, the two leaders will not allow themselves to be bogged down by specifics and irritants.

"No joint statement or document of any sort is envisaged. This is a meeting to build an understanding between the two leaders," a source said, dodging questions on what the summit would achieve when not much had come out of the bonhomie displayed between Modi and Xi during the high-on-optics visit by the Chinese President to India in September 2014 that included a trip to Ahmedabad and a stroll down the Sabarmati riverfront.

Xi 

"As two emerging countries who are also neighbours, there are risks involved and it is important to mitigate and handled those," a source said without dwelling on the details.

What makes the timing of the visit curious is that Modi is anyway scheduled to visit China in June to attend the 18th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Qingdao. However, the sources pointed out that Xi would not be able to spend as much time with Modi at Qingdao as he would at Wuhan because the demands of the SCO would keep him preoccupied.

This week's meeting apparently has been in the works since December when Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had a bilateral session with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the 15th Russia-India-China trilateral here.

At that meeting, both sides had agreed to keep the conversation going, seeing communication as the best way forward. Sushma had detailed it further by saying that to strengthen mutual trust and understanding between the two sides, "it will be better to meet again and without agenda". This week's summit fits that bill of meeting without an agenda.