TN rolls out red carpet for Xi, Modi

TN rolls out red carpet for Xi, Modi

S Murari

Tamil Nadu has rolled out the red carpet for the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping for an informal summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at tourist town of Mamallapuram(Mahabalipuram) near Chennai on Oct 11 and 12.

Chennai and Mamallapuram have been brought under a seven-tier security cover ahead of Xi's visit. All heavy vehicles have been banned on a short stretch from the airport to ITC Grand in Guindy where the President will check in after arrival on Friday afternoon.

Police held a rehearsal of motorcade from the airport to the ITC Grand Hotel . On the rehearsal was the special car Hongqi six-gear bullet proof  car made in China for the President. The Old Mamallapuram road has been decked up as the Chinese President will be taking the road route. The entire Old Mahabalipuram Road(OMR) stretch has been decked up with welcome arches en route. Barricades have been put up on way for people to greet the visiting President.

The Mamallapuram tourist town has come under the tightest security blanket with residents told to stay off the VIP area. Even fishermen have been told not to go fishing and a Naval patrol chip has been anchored off the coast. At 5pm on Friday, Modi and Xi will visit the four iconic monuments of Mamallapuram. They will visit Arjuna's penance, Krishna's butter ball, Panchratha and the shore temple. All the monuments have been cleaned. Wooden walkways have been set up for the leaders to enjoy the heritage sites.

Natural grass lawns have been used in the landscaping. Lights have been installed as well to add to the photo opportunities there. A Buddha statue has been installed near the shore temple to add to the cultural exchange between India and China.

After the leaders visit the monuments, a cultural programme will be conducted at the shore temple. This will be followed by dinner at Fishermen's Cove where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be staying. On Oct 12, the leaders will start their  informal meeting followed by lunch. Trade, terrorism, and border issues are likley to figure in the discussions. In the summit, the focus will be on expanding overall ties and improving people to people contact, besides how to maintain peace and tranquillity on the India-China border.

Modi will hold one-to-one and delegation level talks with the Chinese President. The meeting between them has no specific agenda but issues like terrorism, terror funding, support and sourcing are likely to come up during the meet.

The first informal summit between Modi and Xi took place in picturesque Chinese lake city Wuhan in April 2018, months after a 73-day long face-off between the armies of the two countries in Doklam tri-junction in Sikkim sector raised fears of a war. In the summit, PM Modi and Xi decided to issue "strategic guidance" to their militaries to strengthen communication and build trust and understanding.