New Delhi, Aug 21: Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Monday refused to comment on the possibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, at sidelines of BRICS summit which will start from Tuesday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Prime Minister will depart on Tuesday morning for Johannesburg where he will be participating in the 15th BRICS summit. The summit will conclude on August 24,” Kwatra told media persons during a briefing on Modi's visit to South Africa and Greece between August 22 and 25.
When asked about the chances of a bilateral meeting between Modi and Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit, the Foreign Secretary (FS) said: “The host country South Africa has invited a large number of guest countries, besides BRICS members. PM’s schedule, in terms of bilateral meetings with those leaders who would be present in South Africa, is still being developed.”
“In so far as BRICS expansion is concerned, we have been clear from the start that we have positive intent and an open mind when it comes to BRICS expansion. Those are the subject matters of ongoing current discussion between the Sherpas of the BRICS in South Africa and I would not want to prejudge the outcome of the discussions,” he said.
On BRICS currency, FS said: “Common currency discussions have several prerequisites before you can even talk about a common currency framework. The discussion framework in BRICS, the substance of that discussion framework in BRICS has focused on trade within the national currency.”
He said that for the 15th BRICS summit, a business delegation from India is also travelling to South Africa to attend the Business Tracks meetings and also the meetings of the BRICS Business Council, BRICS Women Business Alliance and the BRICS Business Forum.
Speaking about Modi's day-long visit to Greece on August 25, Kwatra said: “During PM Modi’s visit to Greece, both sides will look to expand and diversify trade and investment segment of cooperation, deepen and expand defence and security partnership, infrastructure cooperation, shipbuilding industry.”
He said that the visit would give both sides an opportunity to discuss also the regional and global issues of mutual interest and help broaden and deepen our bilateral engagement.
“Greece is one of India’s important European partners. Both India and Greece are not just modern democracies but we also share close and age-old historical and cultural relations,” the FS added.