Bishkek: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral relations.

This is the PM’s first meeting with the Chinese premier since his re-election in the Lok Sabha elections in May.

PMO tweeted, “Deepening friendship with China. PM @narendramodi’s first meeting on the sidelines of the SCO Summit is with President Xi Jinping. Both leaders are discussing ways to further strengthen bilateral relations.”

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, after the meeting, said, “Building on the momentum of high-level exchanges, PM @narendramodi had a warm meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Leaders discussed all aspects of enriching our bilateral relations & recognised the positive role of strategic communication in deepening our partnership.”

Later, briefing the media, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said, “PM specifically conveyed to President Jinping and he agreed that both sides need to raise our expectations from the relationship. PM welcomed him to India for the next informal summit, President Xi Jinping confirmed his readiness to visit India this year.”

Gokhale added, “PM noted what had improved between two sides is strategic communication& in that context, we have been able to resolve long pending issues like opening of Bank of China branch in India and issue related to the listing of Masood Azhar.”

However, before the meeting, China had hinted that Jinping would highlight the need for a front against US President Donald Trump’s policies of trade protectionism by using tariffs as a weapon.

China and the US have been in conflict over trade for the year. The face-off escalated since the US tightened trade restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Reports said China hoped India, especially after the US terminated its ‘beneficiary developing country’ designation under the Generalised System of Preferences, would join the fight.

PM Modi arrived in the Kyrgyz capital earlier in the day in what is his first multilateral engagement post his re-election. The SCO is an eight-member economic and security bloc with India and Pakistan being a part since 2017.