Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in India on October 11 and 12 for his second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the foreign ministries of India and China said on Wednesday in near simultaneous announcements about 50 hours before the visit begins.
The external affairs ministry said the informal summit will provide an opportunity for Modi and Xi to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and exchange views on deepening bilateral development partnership.
The delay in officially announcing Xi's visit for the informal summit in Mahabalipuram near Chennai was seen as reflection of some uneasiness in Sino-India ties following India's decision to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories and withdraw its special status.
Hours after India and China announced Xi's visit to India, the Chinese state media quoted the Chinese President as telling Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during their meeting in Beijing that China has been "paying close attention" to the situation in Kashmir and the "facts are clear".
According to the Xinhua news agency, the Chinese President also hoped that the "relevant parties" can solve the issue through peaceful dialogue.
Reacting sharply to reports of Xi and Khan discussing Kashmir, the external affairs ministry said Beijing is "well aware" of New Delhi's position and it is not for other countries to comment on its internal affairs.
Government sources also said there was no question of any discussion on the issue as it is India's sovereign matter but added that Modi will update the Chinese President on the matter if there is a query.
The summit in the ancient coastal town in southern India is also taking place in the backdrop of China's growing trade friction with the United States.
Both leaders are likely to explore ways of expanding trade and business ties. India is expected to raise the issue of ballooning trade deficit in China's favour, the sources said.
On China's objection to the declaration of Ladakh as a union territory, the sources said it was a demand of local population and the decision has in no way changed the respective perception of the boundary between the two countries.
The sources also termed a bilateral matter the visit of the Pakistan prime minister to Beijing before Xi's India trip, saying the informal summit is "beyond one issue summit" and New Delhi does not see Imran Khan's trip as an attempt by China to hyphenate the India and Pakistan relationship.
The broad objective of the summit will be to find a broad pathway for future growth of Sino-India ties, they said, adding that there was no plan to ink any pact or issue any joint communique after the Modi-Xi meetings.
They said political relations, trade and terrorism and ways to maintain peace and tranquility along the border between the two countries will be major areas of focus in the talks, besides key regional and global issues, including reform of the UN and challenges being faced by the World Trade Organisation.
India is also looking at additional confidence building measures along the border.
Strategic affairs expert Ashok Kantha said the summit between Modi and Xi in an informal setting in the midst of evolving geo-political power play in the region and beyond shows that both the leaders are taking ownership of the complex relationship.
"The key aspect of the engagement will be how both the countries make incremental progress in addressing their differences and end the cycle of ups and downs in the ties," he said.
He said the India-China relationship is not only confined to bilateral ties, but has important regional and global dimensions.
Government sources in the Indian capital said Xi is expected to arrive in Chennai early afternoon on Friday. Modi will take him to the famous world heritage site of Shore temple complex in Mamallapuram and both of them will have a meeting at the site.
The effort would be to chart broader pathways for development as also deepen ties in key areas, including counter-terrorism, sources said, adding the China-India counter-terror exercise is expected to be held later this year.
Both leaders will also witness a cultural programme following which Modi will host a dinner for the Chinese leader.
On Saturday, both leaders will have a one-on-one meeting followed by delegation-level talks. The Chinese president is expected to leave for Nepal from Chennai around 2 pm on Saturday.
Xi will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Wang Yi and a polit bureau member of the Chinese Communist Party.
On China objecting to the Indian Army's mega military exercise in Arunachal Pradesh, the sources said it is an operational issue.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it. Both sides have been maintaining that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.
The two sides have already held over 20 rounds of border talks under the framework of the Special Representatives dialogue, set up to find an early solution to the border dispute.
Sources said the China-India counter-terror exercise is expected to be held later this year.
They said negotiations over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement may also figure in talks between Modi and Xi.
The RCEP comprising 10-member ASEAN bloc and six other countries -- India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand -- is engaged in negotiations for a free trade pact.
China criticised India's decision on Kashmir and its Foreign Minister Wang Yi even raised it at the UN General Assembly last month.
Days later, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said China was working for Kashmiris to help them get their fundamental rights and justice, comments which did not go down well with New Delhi.
However, ahead of Xi's India visit, China on Tuesday said the Kashmir issue should be resolved between New Delhi and Islamabad, significantly omitting its recent references to the UN and UN Security Council resolutions.
The first informal summit between Modi and Xi took place in the picturesque Chinese lake city Wuhan in April 2018, months after a 73-day face-off between the armies of the two countries in the Doklam trijuction in Sikkim sector raised fears of a war between the two Asian giants.
In the summit, Modi and Xi decided to issue "strategic guidance" to their militaries to strengthen communication and build trust and understanding.