Indian Rasam: Thalaiva’s Nariyal Diplomacy with Xi

Mamallapuram: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a two-and-a-half hour “pleasant conversation” over dinner on Friday, resolving to further energise bilateral development partnership and insulating the overall ties from differences over contentious issues.

The meeting at the magnificent Shore temple complex under a sea-facing colourful tent in this coastal town continued much beyond the schedule time as both leaders, helped by two interpreters, touched upon a range of issues, including complex ones, over sumptuous local Tamil delicacies, sources said.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar described the engagement between Modi and Xi on the first day of the Informal summit as “highly productive”.

“Concluding a highly productive day with a pleasant conversation over a long dinner. PM @narendramodi & Chinese President Xi continued their exchange of views on deepening of the India-China partnership over a breathtaking Kalakshetra cultural performance followed by dinner,” Kumar tweeted.

There was no official confirmation whether Modi and Xi discussed the Kashmir issue which somehow strained ties between the two countries and even overshadowed Xi’s trip to this coastal town. It is widely speculated that the issue found mention in the conversation between the two leaders over dinner.

In a tweet following the dinner, Modi said he was delighted to spend time with Xi.

“Mamallapuram is one of the most beautiful places in India, full of vibrancy. It is linked to commerce, spirituality and is now a popular tourism centre. I am delighted that President Xi Jinping and I are spending time in this scenic place, which is also a @UNESCO heritage site,” he said.

The sources said both Xi and Modi resolved to further energise bilateral development partnership and insulating the overall ties from differences over contentious issues.

In the late afternoon, Modi and Xi sipped coconut water and engaged in casual interaction in a serene setting in the backdrop of 7th century rock-cut chariots of Pancha Ratha overlooking the Bay of Bengal.

Modi, dressed in a Tamil attire of ‘Veshti’ (dhoti), white shirt and an ‘angavastram’ (shawl), 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 this ancient temple town, kicking off the second informal summit between the two leaders.

Xi’s visit to India comes two days after he held talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing. After the talks, a joint statement said China is paying “close attention” to the situation in Kashmir and that the issue should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter. The comments evoked sharp reaction from New Delhi.

Shortly after Xi’s aircraft touched down in Chennai, government sources said the two leaders are expected to issue some directions at the end of the summit on Saturday as they did after the first edition of new format of engagement in Chinese city of Wuhan last year.

Officials on both sides said the focus of the Modi-Xi summit would be to move forward and chart a new pathway of development notwithstanding sharp differences between the two countries over several contentious issues.

In the footage beamed by public broadcaster Doordarshan of the two leaders visiting the magnificent monuments, Modi was seen warmly explaining to the Chinese leader the historical significance of the monuments with the dazzling setting sun casting a soft glow over the iconic site.

LOC

President Xi landed in Chennai a little before 2 pm in an Air China Boeing 747 aircraft, from where he will proceed to Mahabalipuram. He was received by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami, Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly P Dhanapal. A brief cultural ceremony was organised to honour the Chinese leader.

PM Modi landed in Chennai at around 11:30 am. The Prime Minister is expected to show him around three of the site’s ancient monuments – Arjuna’s Penance, Panch Rathas and the Shore Temple. The two leaders will also watch a cultural programme with Shore temple as the backdrop. During PM Modi’s visit to Wuhan, President Xi had given him a personal tour of the Hubei provincial Museum.

The arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tamil Nadu’s coastal town of Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram. as it is known now, has been good news for environment enthusiasts, especially those worried about water bodies.

A decrepit lake in has got a new lease of life after its restoration was taken up on priority as part of the massive beautification and clean-up exercise ahead of the summit between PM Modi and Xi, their second informal meet after the Wuhan summit last year.