WUHAN, China (Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make a one-hour boat trip with his host, Chinese President Xi Jinping, on Saturday, the last day of an icebreaker trip that both hope will lead to better relations after a year of tensions.
Modi only spends about 24 hours at the plant The Chinese city of Wuhan, a few months after a dispute over a section of its Himalayan border at high altitude, rekindled fears of war between Asian nations.
Sent by both parties as an informal meeting instead of a summit, without the pomp and ceremony of a state visit, such as greetings of 21 weapons, the two men held talks on Friday that lasted much longer than expected.
Modi will take a walk around a guest house with Xi on Saturday, then a boat trip of one hour on a lake followed by a lunch, before the meeting ends, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India
Both countries must inform journalists at the end.
Chinese state media praised the tone of the trip so far.
The overseas edition of the official Communist Party People's Daily said in a commentary on the first page of Saturday that "two great countries should have great cooperation", and showed a great image of the two leaders shaking hands .
"There is every reason to believe that this Wuhan meeting will increase mutual trust, manage and control disputes, deepen cooperation and lead to a new phase in China-India relations," he said.
"It is quite clear that the strategic agreement between the two countries far exceeds the specific differences, and the need for cooperation far exceeds local friction," he said.
Despite the rhetoric, which on Friday included Modi inviting Xi to India for a similar informal summit next year, the differences between the nations are significant.
In addition to disputes along stretches of a 3,500 km (2,200-mile) border, they bump into each other in the Indian Ocean and fight over the flagship initiative of Xi's Belt and Road.
India recently noted its opposition to the great trade and transportation plan because one of its branches runs through Kashmir administered by Pakistan, which India claims.
India has long suspected of China's traditionally close ties with Pakistan.
For its part, China has been concerned about the efforts of the United States to take India to a "quarter" of maritime democracies, including Japan and Australia.
China also suspects that India is host to the Dalai Lama and other exiled Tibetans.
Written by Ben Blanchard; Edition by Paul Tait