Modi, Xi stand apart in BRICS leaders’ group photograph in South Africa
Speculation was rife over a possible bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi ever since the two Asian leaders arrived in Johannesburg for the top event.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi holds hands with South African president Cyril Ramaphosa (third from left), Chinese president Xi Jinping (second from left), Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (extreme right) and Brazilian president Lula da Silva (extreme left) as they pose for a picture prior to attending the second day of the 15th BRICS Summit, in Johannesburg on Wednesday, August 23, 2023. (ANI Photo)
LEADERS of the BRICS nations, including Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday (23) arrived at the Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa for the plenary sessions of the ongoing summit of the grouping. They posed for a BRICS family photograph prior to taking part in the sessions.
There, Modi was seen standing apart from Chinese president Xi Jinping with South African president Cyril Ramaphosa holding their hands together. BRICS is an acronym for five member states — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The two other leaders in the photograph were Brazilian president Lula da Silva and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov as Russian president Vladimir Putin skipped the summit amid an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
The plenaries were scheduled to be followed by a cultural performance and banquet dinner hosted by Ramaphosa, the leader of the host nation.
Speculation is rife over a possible bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi ever since the two Asian leaders arrived in Johannesburg for the top event.
India and China have a strained relationship at the moment mainly due to border skirmishes and the western world is increasingly viewing India as an alternative to China when it comes serving its geopolitical and economic interests.
The two came face to face at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year but after months of confusion, both side confirmed in July that Modi and Xi spoke about the border crisis during their brief meeting. The two also came close during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand in Uzbekistan in September last year but reportedly did not exchange pleasantries.
They were also seen standing apart in a group photograph.
However, Modi received a warm welcome both from South African officials and members of the Indian diaspora after arriving in Johannesburg. He viewed the model of an upcoming Swaminarayan Temple in the South African city and addressed the BRICS Business Forum Leaders’ Dialogue on Tuesday where he said India will soon be a $5 trillion-economy and emerge as the world’s growth engine.