G20 summit: The picture PM Modi didn’t tweet fast
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a brief chat and shook hands at the G20 meeting in Bali on Tuesday, indicating the possibility of a slight thaw following Monday’s meeting between Xi and US President Joe Biden at the summit.
This is the first time Modi and Xi have engaged publicly since the June 15, 2020, clash in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers and several Chinese troops were killed.
Both leaders had attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in September but there was not even the briefest of interactions on camera.
For over four hours after the chat in Bali, there was no official word from either capital. Nor did Modi tweet any picture of the meeting, as he had done after his informal engagements with other heads of state or government at the summit, including Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Prime Minister posted several tweets after his chat with Xi but there was no mention of this engagement. Nor did it feature in a video he posted of his day at Bali.
Tuesday’s interaction took place during the welcome dinner and cultural event at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, and lasted over a minute. External affairs minister S. Jaishankar was in attendance, indicating this was no chance encounter — which in any case would have been unlikely at such a summit-level meeting. Sources said Modi and Xi exchanged courtesies at the end of the dinner.
On Modi’s meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the summit, the external affairs ministry said the two leaders had reviewed the strategic partnership, expressed satisfaction about close cooperation in new groupings like the Quad and I2U2 (India, Israel, UAE and the US), and discussed global and regional developments.
There is no photograph of Modi and Biden sitting down to talk, and all this discussion appears to have taken place when they met casually in the conference room. The ministry did not provide any further details or respond to requests for photographs of the meeting. Official social media handles have shared photographs of the two leaders talking while standing.
A White House readout said Biden met the Indian Premier and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on the margins of the G20 leaders’ summit. There was no mention of a one-on-one with Modi. The Indian ministry later put out a statement on Biden’s meeting with Modi and Widodo.
An informal meeting with Biden was expected as this is usual for such summits. Also, in a pre-departure briefing, foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kawatra had said the Prime Minister would use his presence in Bali to invite G20 leaders to next year’s summit, to be held in India.