New Delhi: A runway big enough for the aircraft carrying Chinese President Xi Jinping and his large high-powered delegation to land directly from Beijing is believed to be one of the key parameters when the Indian and Chinese sides jointly decide the venue for the second informal summit in India between President Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that is expected to take place in October this year. Metropolitan cities, including those in southern India such as Chennai, are therefore also learnt to be under consideration, along with a few possible venues in other parts of the country. While there had earlier been speculation about Varanasi — Mr Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency — being one of the contenders, assessments will probably be made on whether the Varanasi airport runway fits the bill in this regard or not.
The Hyderabad airport has accommodated the A380 and the supermassive Antonov-225, the largest aircraft in the world.
The two sides are expected to discuss possible venues and things could probably be firmed up when external affairs minister S. Jaishankar visits Beijing in August, in what will be a final preparatory visit ahead of the meet.
As consultations are already underway ahead of the summit, that will take place in less than three months from now, newly-appointed Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong arrived in New Delhi on Sunday to assume his responsibilities. “Just arrived at Delhi with my wife Bao Jiqing. Sincere greetings to the #Indian people. Look forward to working with #Indian government and friends from all sectors for building better #China-#India relations,” the new Chinese envoy tweeted.
Sources told this newspaper that the venue for the informal summit was yet to be finalised, at least till last week. In all probability, the venue will be one where the Indian government is able to showcase the rich culture of the country to the visiting high-level Chinese delegation.
President Xi has visited New Delhi and Ahmedabad in September 2014 as well as well as Goa for the Brics summit in October 2016. Speculation was rife that other possible venues like Varanasi or perhaps even a couple of cities in tourism-friendly Rajasthan could be in the reckoning. But factors such as the runway length seem to be now weighing in prominently.