CHENNAI: Diplomatic events generally happen with clockwork precision. But, a one-on-one dinner Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mamallapuram, which was scheduled to be over by 8.30 pm, exceeded by almost an hour-and-a-half on Friday, leading to speculation on what might have kept them occupied for so long.
Of course, the two leaders were treated to traditional South Indian cuisine, which included thakkali rasam, arachavitta sambar, Malabar lobster, ada pradhaman, and mamsam biriyani. But Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale chose to reveal little apart from saying the two leaders spent quality time over dinner on Day One of their informal summit and discussed a wide range of issues.
In all, the two leaders spent five hours together on Friday, including half-an-hour spent watching a cultural extravaganza. They had detailed discussions on their respective national visions with Xi saying he was looking forward to working closely with Modi.
A reference to Bodhi Dharma, a Pallava prince from Kanchipuram who renounced the throne, became a Buddhist monk and was India’s first spiritual ambassador to China, where he was called DaMo, also came up during the mutual interactions.
Modi brought up concerns over the ballooning bilateral trade deficit and other economic issues. The menace of terror was another issue both sides discussed at length. “There was an acknowledgement that both the countries are very complex and very diverse. The two leaders said that these are large countries and that radicalisation is a matter of concern to both and that both would work together so that radicalisation and terrorism did not affect our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic multi-religious societies,” he said.
They are expected to discuss international issues on Saturday. Modi presented a Nachiyarkoil Annam lamp and a Thanjavur painting to Xi.