Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Xi in Ahmedabad first because Modi wants to showcase India outside Delhi

New Delhi: There is a reason behind the innovation and prime minister Narendra Modi wants to make it a norm. Chinese president Xi Jinping, who starts his three-day India visit on September 17 from Ahmedabad, is the first foreign dignitary to start off from outside Delhi. It is the norm that state visits start off in the national capital. Modi wanted to make a change. From now on, foreign heads of state and government would be encourage their India visits in places other than the official capital.

The prime minister will be in Ahmedabad to receive the Chinese head of state. Another first would be that there will be official business during the day-long stay in the Guajarat capital, Modi’s home state. Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin informed that there will be much for the media to report from Ahmedabad, including signing of agreements, which is again a first. He was not in a position to disclose anything about the nature of agreements to be signed, but he assured that those signed in Ahmedabad will pertain to that region. There will be other agreements that Modi and Xi will sign in Delhi after the officials talks, at the meeting between the two leaders along with aides and later at delegation level.

There has been much preparation on the part of India for the visit, especially through national security adviser Ajit Doval’s visit to Beijing last week, where he called on Xi and he met ministers and officials to discuss the visit. Akbaruddin said Doval conveyed to the Chinese government that India sees “the visit as an important landmark”. It is only the third Chinese presidential visit. The earlier ones were that of Jian Zemin in 1996 and Hu Jintao in 2006. The MEA spokesperson said that the “new government was engaged in intensive global engagement” and Xi’s visit is being seen as part of this new drive.

There have been brisk exchange of visits between the two countries ever since Modi had taken over as prime minister in May. Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang was the first foreign leader to have telephoned Modi and congratulated him after the swearing-in. Modi had met Xi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil in July, and it was followed by vice president Hamid Ansari’s visit to China. Minister for external affairs had met her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi twice, first in June in Nw Delhi and again on the sidelines of the Asean Regional Forum in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw in August.

The MEA spokesman and joint secretary (east) in the ministry Pradeep Rawat did not reveal any breakthrough agreements on the economic front nor on the crucial issue of border talks. To repeated queries about Chinese incursions in the north-east, Akbaruddin said that incursions will be handled on the ground by the “brave sentinels” and made it out that it will not in any way impact on the Modi-Xi talks because these are a different thing altogether.

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