PM, Chinese Prez set stage for conducive talks, discuss Mahabalipuram’s China-India links
Against the backdrop of the seventh century monument of Pancha Ratha, overlooking the Coromandel Coast of Bay of Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday took a stroll and sipped fresh coconut water in a relaxed informal setting, creating positive atmospherics in bilateral ties strained over the Kashmir issue.
Dressed in a Tamil attire of Veshti (dhoti), white shirt and an angavastram, Modi played the perfect host and took Xi for a guided tour of the famous world heritage sites of Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna’s Butterball, the Pancha Ratha and Shore temple in Mahabalipuram.
The Prime Minister explained to the Chinese leader the historical significance of the monuments. Xi was seen showing keen interest in the seventh century monuments built during the Pallava dynasty in this coastal town which had historical links with China’s Fujian province.
Modi and Xi, assisted by one translator from each side, sat down for around 15 minutes at Pancha Ratha complex, an example of monolithic Indian rock-cut architecture, and engaged in intense talks while sipping coconut water — images reflecting warmth in personal chemistry between the two leaders of two emerging economies.
From Pancha Ratha, the two leaders visited the beautifully lit-up Shore temple — a symbol of cultural heritage of the Pallava dynasty. After spending some time together, Modi and Xi were joined by top delegates of both sides.
Minutes later, the two leaders witnessed a cultural performance against the backdrop of the Shore temple.
Irrespective of whether the two heads of States would make any breakthrough in the decades old border dispute, claims on each other’s territories and the nagging trade deficit figures, the informal talks paid off rich dividends in the form of an international endorsement for dhothi and angavastram (shawl), the traditional attire of Tamil Nadu.
Xi, who was in his customary black trousers and white full sleeves sans any tie and suit, was welcomed by the dhoti-clad Modi much to the delight of the onlookers. The two leaders took a stroll along the beach of Mahabalipuram hand in hand while Modi was seen explaining the details of the artistic sculptures dotting the beach side to President Xi.
According to historians, Mahabalipuram (Mamalla- puram in Tamil) has a 1700-year-old Chinese connection.
Earlier, Xi arrived in Chennai to a red carpet welcome for his second informal summit with Modi amid a realisation of lot is riding on the bilateral ties strained over hardline approach on the Kashmir issue by both sides.
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Chief Minister EK Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri welcomed the Chinese leader at the Chennai airport.
“Welcome to India, President Xi Jinping!” Modi tweeted, shortly after the Chinese leader arrived on an Air China Boeing 747 aircraft, accompanied by a 90-member delegation, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Polit Bureau member of Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party Ding Xuexiang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi.
A brief cultural ceremony reflecting Tamil Nadu’s cultural heritage was organised at the airport to welcome the visiting leader.
The two leaders will have around six-hours of one-on-one free-wheeling talks, officials said. On Saturday morning, Modi and Xi will have a comprehensive one-on-one meeting to be followed by delegation level talks.
Both sides will, then, issue separate statements on outcome of the summit.
Xi’s visit comes two days after he held talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Bejing during which Kashmir issue figured prominently. A China-Pakistan joint statement issued after talks said China is paying “close attention” to the situation in Kashmir and that the issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter.
The comments angered India as it asserted that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of the country and China is well aware of New Delhi’s position.
Officials on both sides said the focus of the Modi-Xi summit would be to insulate the bilateral trade and development cooperation from differences on Kashmir and vexed boundary issue. They said ways to bolster counter-terror cooperation, trade and enhancing cooperation between militaries of the two countries along the 3,500 KM border will be key focus of the talks.
Saturday, 12 October 2019 | Kumar Chellappan/ PTI | Mamallapuram
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