NEW DELHI: PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping came together with other heads of state and government at the Brics leaders’ retreat late in the evening Tuesday but suspense remained over whether the two leaders will have a bilateral meeting on the margins of the summit.
“PM, alongwith other Brics leaders will deliberate (at the retreat) on global developments and leveraging the Brics platform to find solutions to global challenges,” tweeted the MEA spokesperson, along with a photo of all the leaders, including Modi and Xi, standing together.
They were expected to share the stage also at the Brics business forum meeting, which was addressed by Modi, but Xi skipped the event and instead sent his commerce minister Wang Wentao to represent him. Official sources did not rule out photo ops or even casual talks between the two leaders but were not forthcoming about a structured bilateral meeting, something which Xi and Modi have not had for almost four years.
Modi is scheduled to have five bilateral meetings on April 24, the last day of the summit, including with the leaders of Iran, Ethiopia and Mozambique but the government has not revealed the names of the remaining two countries with whom he will have a formal meeting on Thursday. Official sources said a few bilateral meeting were likely to take place on Wednesday too.
Modi will address the closed and open plenary sessions of Brics on Wednesday and attend the dinner by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the evening. In between, he will have time for a few bilateral meetings, according to officials.
The recent military talks failed to resolve the deadlock in eastern Ladakh but the positively worded joint statement, ahead of Brics and also the G20 summit, has raised hopes of a bilateral meeting between the leaders.
Modi and Xi came together also in Samarkand last year for the SCO summit but there was no bilateral meeting even though the summit took place barely a week after India and China resolved the standoff at the Gogra friction point. They did have a fleeting conversation later on the sidelines of the G20 Bali summit, as confirmed by India 8 months later, in which they agreed there was a need to improve bilateral times. While Xi hasn’t confirmed his visit to India yet for G20, the Indian government does expect him to participate.

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