Chinese president Xi Jinping has accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's invitation to visit India later this year for an informal summit, the foreign ministry said today after the two leaders held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO summit. PM Modi had reached Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, earlier today to take part in the two-day summit that focuses on trade and security issues.
"PM Modi invited Xi (to India) for the next informal summit. Xi confirmed his readiness to visit India this year and that both sides should begin preparations," said foreign secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale.
PM Modi and Xi Jinping had held their first informal summit in China's Wuhan in April last year, which was a great success. It gave the two leaders the opportunity to understand each other's domestic and foreign policies without having to communicate through a formal structure. At that meeting, President Jinping had accepted PM Modi's invitation to come to India for a second meeting.
Over the last few years, India and China have been working towards closer ties despite their differences. Last year, during the Wuhan summit, Global Times -- attached to the ruling Communist Party of China's official publications and known for its anti-India rhetoric -- said: "Within China, hostility toward India is being replaced by hopes for friendly ties. The two countries need more communication to enhance mutual trust and eliminate the possibility of another border crisis".
The bilateral meeting with President Xi was the first engagement of PM Modi after his arrival in Bishkek today. Mr Gokhale said though it was scheduled for 20 minutes, it went for a longer period.
"Both leaders had a warm and cordial discussion. Xi congratulated PM, said it was reflective of the trust placed by people of India," the foreign secretary said. Both leaders also agreed that there has been a new momentum in the diplomatic relations of the two nations since Wuhan.
"PM noted that what had improved was strategic communication at all levels -- long-pending issues like opening of Bank of China branch in India and UN listing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist has been solved. PM specifically conveyed this to Xi and he agreed that both sides need to raise expectations from relationship," Mr Gokhale said.