Modi, Xi to come face-to-face for first time since border clashes

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FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will come face-to-face on Friday for the first time since deadly border clashes in 2020 frayed ties between the Asian rivals.

Modi will fly to the Uzbek city of Samarkand on Thursday for a summit of the regional security group known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which will also be attended by Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"At the SCO summit, I look forward to exchanging views on topical, regional and international issues, the expansion of SCO and on further deepening of multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the organisation," Modi said in a statement https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1859532.

He said a number of decisions on trade, the economy, culture and tourism were expected to be taken at the summit.

The event comes after Indian and Chinese soldiers this week disengaged at a disputed area along a remote western Himalayan border after more than two years of a standoff. Modi and Xi have not spoken to each other since the standoff began.

India's foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra told a news conference on Thursday that Modi would have bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit on Friday but declined to confirm a one-on-one with Xi. China has also not confirmed a meeting between the two leaders.

The SCO's permanent members are China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.

Russia has already confirmed a bilateral meeting between Putin and Modi, during which they are expected to talk about overall trade as well as sales of Russian fertilisers and mutual food supplies.

(Writing by Krishna N. DasEditing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Catherine Evans)