Will Modi, Xi meet on sidelines of SCO summit?

Will Modi, Xi meet on sidelines of SCO summit?

Speculations rife as China drops big hint

New Delhi: Amid reports in international media rife that Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan next month, there is an expectation that the event may also create an opening for Jinping to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on its margins.

However, an official confirmation from both the neighboring countries is still awaited. It was earlier reported that the chances of Jinping attending the meeting were slim as the leader had not left China since the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Wall Street Journal cited Jinping's office saying that he may attend in person, and bilateral meetings with the leaders of Pakistan, India, and Turkey may also take place. Officials, however, have warned that the Chinese leader's plans may change and that he may simply attend virtually. However, Putin is reportedly keen on an in-person summit in Samarkand that will focus, among other things, on the security and human rights situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan PM Shehbaz Khan is expected to travel to Uzbekistan for the summit.

While the border disengagement process with China in eastern Ladakh is still ongoing, both parties agree that the military standoff, which began in May 2020, has been resolved at many points of contention.

On Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that both countries maintained smooth communication over the border standoff and the dialogue is effective. This comment came in the wake of the 16th round India- China Corps Commander Level Meeting that was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side last month.

The 15th round China-India Corps Commander-Level Meeting was held on March 11 this year.

During the meeting, the two sides carried forward their discussions from the previous round held on January 12 this year for the resolution of the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector. India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May 2020 over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in June 2020.

The talks have led to disengagement from some areas including the North and South Banks of Pangong Tso and Galwan but some friction points remain.

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