Qingdao, Jun 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s accepted Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s invite to visit India in 2019, as the two leaders met on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit. The two leaders, who met a second time in just over a month after their informal summit in Wuhan, had a “substantive” meeting in which they took stock of the developments in the Sino-Indian ties after their ice-breaking meeting in late April.

Both countries decided to set a trade target of $100 billion and Beijing showed its readiness to open its market to Indian pharmaceutical as well as agriculture products.

“One of the outcomes of the meeting is that the Chinese side conveyed they have accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation to Xi Jinping to have a Wuhan-like informal summit in India in 2019,” India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said.

“It was a longish meeting which went close to one hour. It was a very substantive meeting. Both also agreed to, as they had decided in Wuhan, maintaining strategic communications between them through various channels … through telephone calls and frequent meetings on the sidelines of multilateral events.” He also added that Modi and Xi would again meet on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa.

In a significant move, China also agreed to provide India hydrological data of the Brahmaputra River in flood season, months after Beijing stopped the practice, crucial to predict floods. The two countries also signed an agreement under which China has agreed to import non-Basmati rice from India which is likely to bridge the ballooning trade deficit to a certain extent.

The two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held detailed discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping on bilateral and global issues which will add further vigour to the India-China friendship after their informal summit in Wuhan.

Last year, China had stopped sharing data soon after the 73-day long stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Dokalam over Chinese military’s plans to build a road close to India’s Chicken Neck corridor connecting North-Eastern states.

The first MoU was inked between China’s Ministry of Water Resources and India’s Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation enables China to provide hydrological data in flood season from May 15 to October 15 every year. It also enables the Chinese side to provide hydrological data if water level exceeds mutually agreed level during non-flood season.

The second MoU was signed between China’s General Administration of Customs and India’s Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare on Phytosanitary requirements for exporting rice from India to China, one of the world’s biggest rice markets.

The 2006 Protocol on Phytosanitary Requirements for Exporting Rice from India to China has been amended to include the export of non-Basmati varieties of rice from India. At present, India can only export Basmati rice to China.

Modi arrived in the picturesque coastal city of China’s Shandong province on a two-day visit to attend the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

(Inputs from agencies)