NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be making two visits to China within a short span — to meet President Xi Jinping at the Chinese leaders’ invitation next week and to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in June.

The announcement for the April 27-28 meeting was made by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a joint media event with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Beijing on Sunday.

The summit meeting in Wuhan city has been planned to improve bilateral relations, Wang said. Swaraj is in China for talks with Mr Wang and to take part in the two-day meeting of foreign ministers of the eight-nation SCO from April 23.

Informed sources told Press Trust of India that it would be an informal summit meeting between Xi and Modi during which both leaders would try to work out a new paradigm for the ties bogged down with a host of disputes and differences.

This will be fourth visit of Modi 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. That visit will be closely watched also to see if he gets to find time to meet his Pakistani counterpart on the margins of the summit.

The Modi-Xi summit meeting is taking place against the backdrop of a series of high-level interactions between the two countries, starting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang’s visit to India in December, the first after Doklam standoff.

It was followed by two meetings between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and the visit early this year by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to Beijing.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2018