Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping were seen exchanging a handshake and in brief conversation with each other on August 23, at the BRICS Summit in the South African capital city of Johannesburg.
Before issuing a joint statement of 15th BRICS Summit by the leaders of the grouping, PM Modi and the Chinese Premier were seen walking and chatting before they took their designated seats.
Also, post the briefing, the two leaders were seen exchanging a handshake on the stage.
In November 2022, Prime Minister Modi and Xi Jinping exchanged pleasantries at the G20 dinner hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Bali, Indonesia.
Notably, this was the first the two leaders had met and greeted each other since the standoff between China’s Peoples Liberation Army and the Indian forces in eastern Ladakh in April 2020.
India and China have been in a stand-off situation for the last three years and relations at all levels have deteriorated due to tensions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The two sides have held 19 rounds of talks so far to address the boundary issues in eastern Ladakh since 2020, post the Chinese aggression there.
PM Modi arrived in South Africa for the 15th BRICS Summit on August 22.
The opening day of the summit in Johannesburg saw the BRICS Business Forum Leaders’ Dialogue which PM Modi addressed but Xi Jinping skipped the event, sending his commerce minister Wang Wentao to represent him.
Meanwhile at the Summit today it was announced that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will join the BRICS from January 2024.
In a statement in the presence of other leaders from BRICS countries, PM Modi said India has always believed that adding new members will strengthen BRICS as an organisation.
“India has always supported the expansion of BRICS. India has always believed that adding new members will strengthen BRICS as an organisation,” he said.
PM Modi said India has “historic ties” with all the new members of BRICS.
He said India will also contribute to other countries wanting to join as partner countries of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
In his remarks, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the outcomes of the 15th BRICS Summit and said the grouping will be expanded.
“We’ve reached an agreement to invite Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE to become full members of BRICS. The membership will come into effect from January 2024,” Ramaphosa said.
Participating in the BRICS Summit on Wednesday, PM Modi had said India fully supports the expansion of the BRICS membership and welcomes moving forward with consensus in this.
“In 2016, during India’s chairmanship, we defined BRICS as Building Responsive, Inclusive, and Collective Solutions. After seven years, we can say that BRICS will be – Breaking barriers, Revitalizing economies, Inspiring Innovation, Creating opportunities, and Shaping the future. Together with all the BRICS partners, we will continue to contribute actively in making this new definition meaningful,” he said.
(with inputs from ANI)