Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping began the second day of their informal summit with a tete-e-tete in this coastal temple town on Saturday.
Modi and Xi exchanged views facing the seafront in the luxury Taj resort Fisherman's Cove. The one-on-one will be followed by delegation-level talks at the Tango hall.
On Friday, Modi and Xi held a two-and-half-hour “open and cordial” one-on-one discussion over dinner in this bustling temple town, vowing to jointly combat terrorism and radicalisation, and signalling a recalibration of bilateral ties.
The meeting at the magnificent Shore temple complex under a sea-facing colourful tent in this coastal town continued well beyond the scheduled time as both leaders touched upon a range of issues, including trade deficit, over sumptuous local delicacies, officials said.
“The discussion stressed over 150 minutes and it was well beyond the planned time for conversation. The discussions were very open and cordial. This was quality time that the two leaders spent together one-on-one,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said in a late evening press conference.
Xi arrived in Chennai on a nearly 24-hour visit to hold the second informal summit with Modi at a time the ties between the two Asian giants came under strain over India's decision to withdraw the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Gokhale said both sides vowed to work together so that radicalisation and terrorism do not affect the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies of the two nations.
He said the two leaders also deliberated on trade and economic issues with a focus on identifying new areas for investment and enhancing trade volume and value of two-way trade. The issue of trade deficit and trade imbalance was also discussed, the foreign secretary said.
Union external affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar described the engagement between Modi and Xi on the first day of the informal summit as “highly productive”.
There was no official word on whether Modi and Xi discussed the Kashmir issue. 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 tourist 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.
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 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.
“The free-flowing nature of the informal summit at the UNESCO world heritage site will continue and deepen contacts at the highest level and guide the future trajectory of India-China relationship,” the MEA Spokesperson tweeted.
Xi's visit to India comes two days after he held talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Bejing. 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 a sharp reaction from New Delhi.