Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 13 (Agencies): The meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) here on Thursday comes a month after the UN Security Council designated Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after China lifted its technical hold on the proposal to blacklist him.
The meeting began with President Xi congratulating Prime Minister Modi over his election victory.
“After the election results in India, I got your message, and today again you wish me on the victory, I am very grateful to you for this,” Modi replied.
Xi had extended “heartfelt congratulations” to Prime Minister Modi for winning the general elections last month, in a rare gesture of greeting a foreign leader well before the official announcement of the results.
“On behalf of all Indians, I wish you a very happy birthday,” Modi told Xi, greeting the Chinese leader who will turn 66 on 15 June.
Xi ready visit India this year
“During the meeting, President Xi Jinping agreed that both sides (India and China) need to raise expectations from their relationship. Prime Minister Modi welcomed him to India for the next informal summit and President Xi confirmed his readiness to visit India this year,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters.
For its part, China has already flagged its expectations both on the Xi-Modi meeting as well as of the summit.
“President Xi and Prime Minister Modi are good friends. They had very successful informal summit at Wuhan last year,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui told a media briefing here early this month answering a question on the Modi-Xi meeting.
Early this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that President Xi would go to India later this year for a second informal summit.
Officials say Xi’s visit is expected to come up for discussion during his meeting with Modi at Bishkek.
China also hinted that President Xi would highlight the need to forge a united front against US President Donald Trump’s policies of trade protectionism and unilateralism using tariffs as a weapon.
Chinese officials hope that India, which is also facing trade frictions with the US specially over termination of its designation as a ‘beneficiary developing country’ under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), would join the fight against Trump’s protectionist policies.
“Trade protectionism and unilateralism are very much on the rise. How to respond to the bullying practices of the US, its practice of trade protectionism this is an important question not only to China, but also has direct bearing on the recovery of global economy,” Zhang said.
“So I would say it will be helpful if the two leaders could exchange views and we hope their communication will lead to extensive consensus on upholding justice and opposing trade protectionism,” he said.
About the summit agenda, Zhang said the institutional building of the SCO would be discussed involving economic and security cooperation, particularly on counter-terrorism.
“Security and development are two major issues focus of the SCO,” he said.
“The establishment of the SCO is not to target any country but summit of this level would certainly pay attention to major international and regional issues,” he said in response to a question whether the thrust of the summit would be to oppose the US’ trade frictions with China and other countries.
Modi-Putin Pow Wow
Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held delegation-level talks on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Bishkek on Thursday.
The two leaders reviewed all aspects of bilateral relations to further strengthen the strategic relationship.
“I am very grateful for your support for the rifle manufacturing unit in Amethi,” PM Modi told Putin during his opening remarks.
No Chance of Imran-Modi Talks
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told the Russian agency Sputinik before he emplaned for Bishkek that he is keen on having talks with Indian Prime Minister Modi after he secured a strong mandate in the recently-held parliamentary elections in India.
Pakistan, like India, is a member of the SCO. While Modi will be meeting other leaders on the sidelines of the summit, there is no chance of a similar bilateral with Imran Khan.
India has clearly indicated that there will be no talks with Pakistan until it stops cross border terrorism. Indian’s refrain is: “Terrorism and talks cannot go together.”
But Imran is arguing that if India and Pakistan talk to make peace, the two countries can attend to the task of ridding the scourge of poverty afflicting them.