Benaulim (Goa), Oct 16: India on Sunday denied that the "chance" meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nepal' Premier Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' and Chinese President Xi Jinping was a trilateral exchange between the three leaders.
Addressing a press conference, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the meeting between the trio was a chance encounter in the leaders' lounge, while they were heading for an informal dinner which was organised at a resort in this south Goa town.
"It was just entirely coincidental that in the leaders' lounge, all three were present at the same time. The bilateral between Nepal and China had already ended, so I don't know on what basis people are calling it a trilateral and all that. It is perfectly normal in a multilateral setting for leaders to be together in a lounge on the sidelines somewhere else. So I don't think you need to read too much into that," he said.
Swarup also said that President Xi was already at the lounge, when Prachanda, who was waiting for his turn to head for his own hotel in a designated convoy, entered and the two got talking.
"PM Modi also happened to be there because he was to go with the leaders and they were all to walk together towards the dome. So it was just entirely coincidental that in the leaders' lounge, all three were present at the same time. The bilateral between Nepal and China had already ended," he said.
The meeting of the trio, photos of which were uploaded to Facebook by Prachanda's son Prakash Dahal, had given rise to speculation in the media that there was a trilateral meeting between the three heads of state.
Nepal, however, said that India and China seemed positive on trilateral cooperation, a proposal forwarded by Prachanda in a "trilateral meeting" with Modi and Xi Jinping during the sidelines of ongoing BRICS Summit.
Prachanda had officially proposed trilateral cooperation between Nepal, India and China during the meeting on Saturday evening, said a statement issued by Prachanda's secretariat in Kathmandu.
The proposal was welcomed by both India and China, it claimed.
During the "trilateral meeting", Prachanda reminded that during his previous tenure, he had emphasised on the need of trilateral strategic partnership among Nepal, India and China.
"Nepal lies in between two giant neighbours- India and China. We wish to reap benefits of this geographical specialty by working as a dynamic bridge between the two countries," the Prime Minister said, according to the statement. It also claimed that the Indian and Chinese leaders "welcomed the proposal floated by Nepal and gave their consent to it".
It cited President Xi as saying that Nepal could serve as a bridge between India and China, and that geography of any country would not play a decisive role in terms of many things like development.
He also expressed belief, it said, that the relations between the three neighbours would be strengthened in the future.
Likewise, Modi acknowledged there are geographical, emotional and cultural relations between India, Nepal and China while welcoming the idea of trilateral cooperation, it said.