Wuhan: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping today began talks at an unprecedented two-day informal summit here during which they will have a series of one-on-one conversations focussing on bilateral, global and regional issues.

PM Modi who arrived in Wuhan in the central Chinese city early today for the informal summit began talks soon after President Xi hosted a grand welcoming ceremony for him.

“The two leaders will review the developments in our bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Modi and Xi shook hands and posed for photographs before witnessing a cultural programme at Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan. Wuhan used to be the favourite holiday spot of revolutionary Chinese leader Mao Zedong.

Official sources said the two leaders will hold a series of one-on-one talks after lunch at the Hubei Provincial Museum which has a large number of state-level historic and cultural relics.

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 Dokalam standoff last year. They said Modi and Xi would focuss on global, regional and bilateral issues.

The one-to-one discussions will be followed by talks between the two leaders accompanied by six top officials from each side. The two leaders will have one-on-one dinner at a state guest house by the famous East Lake.

They will resume their one-on-one interaction tomorrow at 10 a.m (local time) with walks by the lake side, boat ride and wind up their talks over lunch, official sources here said.

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.

But this will be their “heart-to-heart” informal summit. There will be no agreement signed or a joint statement issued. 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. This is something the leaders of the two countries have never tried so far, they said.

This is 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.

China’s state media said the informal Xi-Modi meeting heralds new chapter in Sino-Indian relations, an article in the state-run Global Times said.

“The Xi-Modi meeting in 2018 following the 2017 Dokalam standoff will without doubt promote mutual trust and reciprocity between the two countries, and will be a cornerstone of a stable long-term relationship between China and India,” the article said.

Image source: PTI