MAHABALIPURAM: The dinner diplomacy between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram extended beyond the schedule by more than one and a half hour.
As per the schedule, the Chinese President was to depart by 8.05 pm. However, the dinner lasted till 9.35 pm and both the leaders departed to their hotels shortly after.
PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met face to face at the Five Rathas on Friday and the Chinese leader was given a guided tour by Modi himself along with officials from the Archaeological Survey of India. Modi was clad in a traditional veshti, chattai and mel thundu. After the tour of the tourist attraction, PM Modi and Xi Jinping enjoyed cultural performances at the shore temple here ahead of dinner.
The Chinese President was accompanied by Ding Xuexiang, member of political bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the general office of the CPC Central Committee, Yang Jiechi, member of the political bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the office of foreign affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Wang Yi, state coordinator and foreign minister, and He Lifeng, vice chairman of the national committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission.
Chinese people in Tamil Nadu welcoming their president Xi Jinping outside ITC Grand Chola, singing their national song @xpresstn @NewIndianXpress #ModixijinpingMeet #ModiXiSummit pic.twitter.com/AQXhTeaC9i— Novinston Lobo (@SahayaNovinston) October 11, 2019
The Prime Minister was accompanied by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other officials.
Xi travelled in a bulletproof Chinese-made Hongqi "Red Flag" limousine to the informal summit, while Modi reached the venue earlier after travelling to Thiruvidandai by helicopter and heading from there to Mahabalipuram by car.
Also Read: Will DaMo help NaMo and Xi at Mahabalipuram?
The dinner which was hosted by the Prime Minister had both vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu. The menu included Thakkali rasam, Malabar Lobster (spicy lobster cooked in Kerala spices), Kori kuvempu (Chicken Strips tossed with coconut), Karuvepillai Meen varuval, Thanjavur kozhi Curry, Yerachi Ghetti kuzhambu (Mutton cubes cooked with dry corainder and spices), Beetroot Gongura chop, pacha Sundaika Aricha Kozambu, Arachavitta Sambar, mamsam biriyani and Indian rotis.
The dessert served to the Chinese President included Adi pradhaman, Kavanarsi Halwa (pudding of black rice) and Mukkani Ice Cream (a southern India speciality ice-cream) along with tea, coffee and masala chat.
Sources also rejected reports that it was the Chinese who selected Mahabalipuram as the venue for the informal summit.
"India selected it and a recce was done as early as June," an MEA official said.
Since the talks are informal, it is learnt that there will be no joint statement. There will be separate releases from both India and China.
On Saturday, the informal talks between the two leaders will last three hours, including delegation-level talks.
There will also be a 40-minute one-on-one talk between the two leaders.
Sources said the issues are overarching and won't be confined to a single-point agenda.