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First since Galwan, Modi, Xi shake hands

BALI :

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping shook hands and spoke briefly at a formal dinner for G20 leaders in Bali on Tuesday — their first face-to-face meeting in public since the military standoff in Ladakh began more than two years ago .

Footage from the Indonesian Presidential Secretariat’s official YouTube channel showed Modi talking to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan stopped nearby to speak with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Modi was seen rising from his seat and shaking hands with Xi, who smiled.

Modi, flanked by an interpreter, then spoke to Xi for a few minutes.

Both leaders, wearing batik shirts, were soon joined by Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar.

Several people gathered around the two leaders and began capturing the moment with their mobile phone cameras.

There was no word from Indian officials about the encounter at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. There was also no readout from the Chinese side.

A person familiar with the matter said: “Prime Minister and President Xi, who both attended the G20 dinner hosted by the Indonesian president, exchanged pleasantries at the end of the dinner.”

Indian and Chinese leaders avoided each other the last time they attended an in-person multilateral meeting – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand from Sept. 15-16.

People familiar with the matter said that both sides had made no effort for a formal bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Relations between India and China are at an all-time low since the standoff in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) began.

A brutal clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops – the first fatalities along the LAC since 1975.

China has said border tensions should be separated from the overall bilateral relationship. Jaishankar has consistently maintained that ties between India and China cannot be normalized until there is peace and tranquility on the border.

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