One-on-one talks at museum, walks by lake side and boat ride to mark Modi-Xi ‘heart-to-heart’ summit

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Wuhan: A one-on-one meeting, a tour of one of the best known museums of China, dinner by a picturesque lake side followed by talks with top officials would mark the two-day unprecedented informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping beginning today.

Billed as ‘heart-to-heart’ summit aimed at evolving consensus between the two leaders to look for solutions to some of the most contentious issues including the border dispute bedevilling the two countries, Modi and Xi will begin their marathon one-on-one talks after lunch. They will initially visit the Hubei Provincial Museum which has a large number of state-level historic and cultural relics.

It will be followed by talks between the two leaders accompanied by six top officials from each side. The two will have one-on-one dinner at the famous East Lake, a favourite holiday destination of China’s revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. On Saturday, they will resume their one-on-one interaction at 10 a.m (local time) with walks by the lake side, boat ride and wind up their talks over lunch, official sources 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. The two leaders would spend most of time interacting with each other only accompanied by translators with one-on-one conversations focussing on global, regional and bilateral issues.

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. The famous East Lake where the two leaders would spend most of the time was a favourite holiday spot for Mao. The picturesque garden adjacent to the mighty Yangtze river is also where Mao used to enjoy his favourite pastime swimming. The place has iconic holiday villa of Mao, which is now a memorial where Xi is expected to take Modi round.

At the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad and its surroundings, Modi was Xi’s guide to introduce the essence of Gandhian thought, including his iconic Charkha where the Chinese leader, who has emerged as the powerful leader of the country with an unlimited tenure, tried his hand to operate Gandhiji’s most cherished symbol. It is now Xi’s turn at Wuhan.

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