Hopes raised over first Manmohan-Xi meet Wednesday

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets new Chinese President Xi Jingping on Wednesday, with both countries waiting for a new direction to bilateral ties that had seen some ups and downs in recent years, particularly over unresolved border tensions.

The meeting will take place on the sidelines of the 5th BRICS Summit that feature the heads of state or government of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the world's emerging economies. 

Keeping with the protocol, Manmohan Singh will be calling on Xi Wednesday evening, the first since the Chinese president took over the reins of his country earlier this month.

"I look forwards to meeting the Chinese President Xi Jinping," the prime minister remarked, ahead of his departure for this South African city early Monday. The two leaders have already spoken over the phone.

"It will be an opportunity for me to not only greet the new Chinese president personally, but also discuss how we can maintain the positive trajectory of our relationship and further strengthen this very important bilateral relationship."

Asked if there was any thing specific on the agenda when the Indian and Chinese leadership meet, officials said it was not possible to pre-judge what each of them was going to say.

"You don't expect leaders to negotiate. You expect them to show us what to do. Then, the rest of us go we and do the hard work," a senior Indian interlocutor said.

He, nevertheless, said ties with China had, indeed, improved in the past few years, since both sides agreed to move forward despite difficulties and problems which primarily pertained to geography and history.

"There is a realisation now that we can build on our relations," said the official, adding, as an example, that that while maritime rivalry between India and China was inevitable, defence exchanges were progressing well. 

Xi, in his first interview after taking over, outlined a "five-point proposal" to improve relations with India, when he met with a group of journalists from the BRICS countries in Beijing on March 19.

The five proposals called for: maintaining strategic communication and keeping ties on the right track; expanding cooperation in infrastructure and mutual investment; strengthening cultural ties; increasing coordination on multilateral affairs and "accommodating each other's core concerns" to "properly handle differences."