New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to China, met Chinese President Xi Jinping in central China's Wuhan city on Friday.
Attempting to bridge the differences between the two countries, Prime Minister Modi offered to host the next informal summit with Xi Jinping in India next year.
During his delegation-level talks as part of an unprecedented informal summit with President Xi in the central Chinese city, Modi said such informal summits should become a tradition between the two countries.
"I'll be happy, if in 2019, we can have such informal summit in India," Modi told Xi.
In response, Chinese President Xi said the two countries have established closer partnership and made positive progress in recent years.
"In the past five years, we have achieved a lot. We have met each other on many occasions," he said.
The Chinese president added that he believes in future and they could meet in format like this from time to time.
"I look forward to in-depth communication with your excellency, and ensure we can build common understanding and help to take the China-India relationship to the next level," he said.
The Chinese President has not hosted any leader in an “informal summit”, which is how the Xi-Modi meeting has been described. Xi has travelled out of Beijing to central China to spend over two days with the Indian PM, the first time he is extending such a gesture to a visiting foreign leader.
“The people of India feel really proud that I’m the first Prime Minister of India, for whom, you (Chinese President) have come out of the capital twice to receive me,” PM Modi told the Chinese President.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi met Xi Jinping at Hubei Provincial Museum and witnessed a cultural programme there.
The Hubei Provincial Museum has a large number of state-level historic and cultural relics.
Billed as 'heart-to-heart', the informal summit aimed at evolving consensus between the two leaders to look for solutions to some of the most contentious issues including the border dispute bedevilling the two countries.
A one-on-one meeting, a tour of one of the best known museums of China, dinner by a picturesque lake side followed by talks with top officials mark the two-day unprecedented informal summit between the two leaders.
On Saturday, they will resume their one-on-one interaction at 10 am (local time) with walks by the lake side, boat ride and wind up their talks over lunch, official sources here said.
This will be their "heart-to-heart" informal summit. There will be no agreement signed or a joint statement issued, officials said.
It is a summit, according to the officials, to forge consensus to resolve the issues with follow up actions by officials than announcing any agreements.
The summit is being seen as an effort by India and China to rebuild trust and improve ties that were hit by the 73-day-long Doklam standoff last year.
The two leaders began their informal meetings way back in 2014 when Xi was hosted by Modi at the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat. They have met and interacted with each other in about a dozen international meetings since then.
This will be the fourth visit of Modi to China after he came to power in 2014. He is again due to visit China to take part in the SCO summit to be held at Qingdao city on June 9-10.
(With PTI inputs)...