Diplomacy

Modi, Xi Jinping Tour Mamallapuram's Temples Before Informal Summit

The two leaders have a packed schedule that includes informal and delegation-level talks and lunch and dinner meets.

New Delhi: Chinese President Xi Jinping, scheduled to hold informal summit talks this evening and on Saturday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was welcomed in India with great pomp even as #GoBackModi trended on Twitter as he arrived in Tamil Nadu.

But what really popped on screens broadcasting the visit has been the bonhomie on display between the two leaders – especially at a time when tensions have been high over the situation in Kashmir as they visited the the coastal town of Mamallapuram.

Earlier in the day, when Xi touched down in Chennai for the two-day informal summit, he received a grand cultural welcome with traditional dance performances at the airport, and scores of children waving flags.

The Indian prime minister reached Mamallapuram ahead of Xi by a chopper to gave the Chinese president a temple tour.

The two leaders have a packed schedule that includes informal and delegation-level talks and lunch and dinner meets.

India had said on Wednesday that any change to Kashmir’s status is an internal affair and that there was no place for a third country to be involved after Xi said he was watching the situation closely and assured Pakistan of Chinese support for its core interests.

Also read: Explainer: Ahead of Modi-Xi Informal Summit, Key Questions Answered

China has longstanding military ties with Pakistan, which has twice fought a war with India over Kashmir. India and China share a 3,500 kilometres border, over which they went to war in 1962 and which remains unresolved despite more than 20 rounds of talks.

Xi is accompanied by top diplomat Wang Yi, while Modi’s team includes foreign minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

For China, a top concern has been the presence of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the so-called Tibetan government in exile, which has been based in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala ever since he fled Tibet following a failed uprising in 1959.

Eleven Tibetans were detained for allegedly trying to stage a protest at the airport and also outside the star hotel where the Chinese premier is staying during his two-day visit, the police said.

Police detains Tibetan activists protesting outside the hotel where the Chinese premier is staying in Chenna on October 11, 2019. Photo: PTI

Police whisked away a person with Tibetan flag and also four others who attempted to stage a sudden protest outside the hotel. Meanwhile, airport police said they detained six Tibetans for trying to stage a protest at the airport ahead of Xi’s arrival.

(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)