Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived at the Chennai International Airport on Friday to kick start an ‘informal’ summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mamallapuram, a coastal town located about 56 kilometres south of Chennai.
Xi will proceed to Mamallapuram, 50 km away, amid tight security by road, where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Xi’s visit comes amid renewed strain in ties between India and China over the Kashmir issue. A joint statement issued after talks between President Xi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said China is paying “close attention” to the situation in the Kashmir and that it should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter.
In its reaction, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India’s consistent and clear position has been that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the country and China is well aware of New Delhi’s position.
Security has been intensified at Mamallapuram and Chennai with the Tamil Nadu Police deploying thousands of security forces to avert any untoward incident.
Modi will take Xi to three iconic monuments of Mamallapuram, including Arjuna’s Penance, Panch Rathas and the Shore temple. Then the two leaders will witness a cultural programme at the temple complex.
Government sources had earlier told ANI that the structure of informal meeting between the two leaders would be similar to the first informal summit between the two leaders in April last year in Wuhan.
The objective of the meeting is likely to be the exchange of views on regional and global issues, finding a broad pathway on bilateral relations, and discussing ways to build better connections between the two countries.
Issues pertaining to trade increased market access for products like soybean and non-basmati rice, as well as terrorism, sourcing, financing, and origins of terror are expected to come up during the talks.
On Saturday, the two leaders will have a one-on-one meeting at the Fisherman’s Cove resort, which will be followed by delegation-level talks. After the talks, Modi will host a lunch for Xi, and the Chinese leader will leave for Chennai airport at 12.45 pm, they said.
The two-day informal visit will not witness the signing of any Memorandum of Understandings or agreements.
After completing his engagements in India, the Chinese President will be departing for Nepal on the second leg of his two-nation tour.