Mamallapuram spruced up for informal summit; Modi-Xi to reconfigure ties hit by Kashmir issue
Chennai, Oct 11: The beach town of Mamallapuram has turned into a fortress ahead of the informal talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping today.
A red-carpet welcome awaits Xi when he arrives here around 5 PM with both the state and the central government agencies making all-out efforts to deck up the coastal town which had strong historical linkages with China's Fujian province.
Ahead of the two-day summit, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong told PTI that a "new set of consensus" including "guiding principles" on giving a new direction to the bilateral ties are expected from engagement.
Officials said Xi will arrive at the Chennai airport around 2 PM and then head off to a luxury hotel.
At 5 PM, Modi will take Xi to three iconic monuments of Mamallapuram Arjuna's Penance, Panch Rathas and the Shore temple. Then the two leaders will witness a cultural programme at the temple complex. They will sit together in the lawns of the Shore temple and exchange views on charting a new roadmap of development and cooperation.
Then, the prime minister will host a private dinner for Xi at the temple complex.
On Saturday, the two leaders will have an one-on-one meeting at the Fisherman's Cove resort which will be followed by delegation-level talks. After the talks, Modi will host a lunch for Xi, and the Chinese leader will leave for Chennai airport at 12:45 PM, they said.
All the monuments in Mamallapuram to be visited by Xi were spruced up while colourful gates have been erected along the routes from Chennai to this coastal city. A grand ornamental arch to welcome the two leaders has been prominently put up at the entrance to Mamallapuram from the East Coast Road. Traditional arches made of banana trees and sugarcane have been put up in front of the hotel where Xi will stay.
An unprecedented security cover has been thrown in and around Mamallapuram which has inconvenienced people in the town as well as tourists. The informal summit is taking place amid renewed strain in ties between the two countries over the Kashmir issue.
India is expected to raise the issue of ballooning trade deficit in China's favour, the sources said. They added that political relations, trade and ways to maintain peace and tranquility along nearly 3,500-KM-long Sino-India border will be major focus areas in the talks.
The ties between India and China after friction after India announced withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated the state into two Union territories.
Modi and Xi, who met numerous times in the last several years, built up a personal rapport culminating in their first informal summit at the Chinese city of Wuhan last year which helped to normalise the bilateral ties.
The first informal summit between Modi and Xi took place in picturesque Chinese lake city Wuhan in April 2018, months after the 73-day stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam.