Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to reach Chennai today post 2pm after which he will travel to the coastal town of Mahabalipuram 50km from the Tamil Nadu capital. Jinping left for India this morning for the second informal meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

President Xi will meet PM Modi and hold talks on a host of issues in an informal setting at the historic town of Mahabalipuram. He will also be given a guided tour of the over 1300-year-old monuments. PM Modi will then host President Xi for a private dinner. The two leaders are also scheduled to meet tomorrow morning to continue the their informal discussions.

After his visit to India, President Xi will leave for Nepal on Saturday afternoon.

This is the second informal summit between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi. Their first informal meeting at the Chinese city of Wuhan last year resulted in normalisation of the relations between the two countries after the 2017 Doklam standoff. Today’s visit will focus on the two leaders discussing trade and confidence building measures (CBMs).

Jinping’s entourage includes Ding Xuexiang, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC), member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, and director of the General Office of the CPC, Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and He Lifeng, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and head of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Ahead of the summit, the China’s state media said the ‘Modi-Xi’ meeting would focus “more” on how to move beyond the past and present differences to forge a cooperative partnership.

“The belated official announcement of President Xi’s visits to the country’s two South Asian neighbours (India and Nepal), only 48 hours ahead of the informal meeting, was proof that Beijing and New Delhi cherish the opportunity to improve bilateral ties through the personal chemistry between their top leaders,” an editorial in the state-run China Daily on Thursday stated.

The meeting between PM Modi and President Xi “sent the reassuring message that they (India and China) want nothing to get in the way of constructive engagement”, it said.

“President Xi’s meeting with Prime Minister Modi in the southern Indian city of Chennai on Friday and Saturday is expected to focus more on the two countries’ historical and present differences, and how to move beyond them to realise their cooperation potential. While it remains to be seen what Xi and Modi can accomplish in Chennai, the potential of greater bilateral engagement certainly supports a relationship that is far more positive than one that is just stable,” the editorial said.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui told the media in Beijing on Wednesday that officials of both sides have made meticulous preparations for the informal summit through close interactions.

“Now the solid ground has been laid. With the joint efforts of the two sides, President Xi’s visit to India will be a full success and set the tone and direction for further growth of bilateral ties and lead to new progress and fruitful results in exchange of cooperation between the two sides,” he said.

No agreements are expected to be signed during the summit. Jinping’s visit to India comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visited China and focused on discussing the Kashmir issue. The Chinese President on Wednesday reportedly said that he was watching the situation in Kashmir and would support Pakistan in issues related to its core interests.

According to a report in Xinhua News Agency, Xi told Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Beijing that the right and wrong of the situation was clear, adding that the parties should resolve the dispute via peaceful dialogue.