Modi, Xi meet at BRICS not scheduled

New Delhi: The bilateral engagements involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa, scheduled from August 22 to 24, are still in development and "evolving," said foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra during a special MEA briefing on Monday. There remains suspense regarding whether Modi will hold a separate structured bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Modi is expected to come face-to-face with the Chinese President in Johannesburg, possibly as early as Tuesday evening during the BRICS Leaders' Retreat. This closed-door Retreat will also include the South African and Brazilian Presidents. It's worth noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not physically attend the BRICS Summit but will participate virtually in the main Summit sessions. This Summit marks the first in-person gathering since the onset of the global Covid pandemic three years ago.

If Modi and Xi hold a separate bilateral meeting on the sidelines, it would be their first since the military tensions erupted in the Ladakh sector between the two armies three years ago when China deployed troops at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in violation of border agreements. Their last meeting was in a bilateral context near Chennai in 2019. India has extended an invitation to President Xi to attend the G20 Summit, hosted by India on September 9 and 10 in New Delhi, although China has not yet confirmed their President's participation.

India has maintained that normalising ties with China is contingent on Beijing's withdrawal of troops from all friction points in the Ladakh sector and the restoration of the status quo as of March 2020, given the perceived reluctance of Chinese troops to do so after three years. It's worth recalling that just last month, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval conveyed to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, during the BRICS NSAs' Meeting in Johannesburg, that Chinese military actions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector that began three years ago had eroded strategic trust and the public and political basis of the Sino-Indian relationship.

Modi is scheduled to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon, around 1.45 pm (local time). In the early evening, at approximately 4 pm, he will take part in the BRICS Business Forum Leaders' Dialogue, followed by participation in the BRICS Leaders' Retreat at around 6 pm.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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