'India, China have big opportunities'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting, in Wuhan, China on Friday. PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday hailed the centuries-old Sino-India ties, telling Chinese President Xi Jinping that the two countries have a "big opportunity" to work together for the benefit of their people and the world.

During his delegation-level talks as part of an unprecedented informal summit with President Xi in the central Chinese city, Modi said such informal summits should become a tradition between the two countries.

"I'll be happy if in 2019 we can have such an informal summit in India," Modi told Xi.

Modi said India and China have the responsibility to work for 40% of the world population and the two sides have a big opportunity to work together for the benefit of their people and the world.

The summit in Wuhan — the favourite holiday spot of revolutionary Chinese leader Mao Zedong — is being seen as an effort by India and China to rebuild the trust that was hit by the Dokalam standoff last year.

Modi recalled that during the 2,000 years of history, India and China together provided momentum and strength to the world economy and dominated it for around 1,600 years.

"The two countries together constituted for about 50 per cent of the world economy and another 50 per cent was shared by rest of the world for 1600 years," the prime minister said.

Modi also said the people of India felt proud that President Xi has twice received him out of the capital.

"I'm perhaps the first prime minister of India for whom you have come out of the capital (Beijing) twice to receive me," Modi said.

Modi also underscored importance of people-to-people contact through STRENGTH, which is expanded as: S-Spirituality; T-Tradition, Trade and Technology; R-Relationship; E-Entertainment (Movies, Art, Dances etc.); N-Nature conservation; G-Games; T-Tourism and H- Health and Healing.

On his part, President Xi said the two countries have established closer partnership and made positive progress in recent years.

"In the past five years, we have achieved a lot. We have met each other on many occasions," he said.

"Our two countries have established closer partnership and cooperation. We have have made positive progress. India and China have a combined population of 2.6 billion which provides enormous potential for development. The influence of our two countries is steadily rising in the region and the world," Xi told Modi.

Xi said he believes in future and the two leaders could meet in format like this from time to time.

The delegation talks which apparently focussed on some of the most contentious issues, lasted for over two hours overshooting scheduled half an hour time, hinting the seriousness of the discussions, officials said.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Indian envoy to China Gautam Bambawale were also present in the meeting.

Xi headed a high-powered delegation, which included Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Ding Xuexiang, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Yang Jiechi and State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi.

The two leaders will resume their one-on-one talks on Saturday. They will begin their day with a walk around the East Lake for half an hour and then go for an hour ride in a double decker boat and end their first-ever informal summit with a one-on-one lunch after which Modi will return home.

This is Modi's fourth visit to China after he came to power in 2014. He is again due to visit China to take part in the SCO summit to be held at Qingdao city on June 9-10.

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'India, China have big opportunities'

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