As Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for the 15th BRICS (a grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, all eyes are on the possibility of a meeting between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. If such a bilateral meeting takes place, it will be their first since the India-China border standoff began in May 2020.
Ahead of his departure, PM Modi said in a statement, "We value that BRICS has become a platform for discussing and deliberating on issues of concern for the entire Global South, including development imperatives and reform of the multilateral system." This is the first in-person summit of BRICS since 2019.
This year's BRICS is under the presidency of South Africa. The theme of this year's summit is: "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for mutually accelerated growth, sustainable development and inclusive multilateralism".
India-China bilateral talks
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg are still being finalised, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Monday, when asked whether PM Modi and President Xi will hold talks on the sidelines of the summit. China has already confirmed the presence of Xi Jinping at the summit.
PM Modi and President Xi had a brief encounter at a dinner during the G20 summit in Bali last November. If a bilateral meeting does take place between the two leaders, it will be their first since the India-China border standoff began in May 2020.
The Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in an over three-year confrontation in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement at several places following extensive diplomatic and military talks. On August 13 and August 14, both countries held the 19th round of Corps Commander-level talks with focus on resolving pending issues at the standoff areas of Depsang and Demchok.
A joint statement termed the talks as "positive, constructive and in-depth" and that the two sides have agreed to resolve the remaining issues in an expeditious manner.
After BRICS Summit
From South Africa, the prime minister said, he will travel to Athens, Greece on August 25 at the invitation of his Greece counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis. He noted that this will be his first visit to this ancient land. "I have the honour to be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Greece after 40 years," he said.
Contacts between our two civilizations stretch back over two millennia and, in modern times, our ties have been strengthened by shared values of democracy, rule of law and pluralism, he said.