By K J M Varma
Wuhan, April 27 - Prime Minister Narendra Modi today hailed the centuries old Sino-India ties, telling Chinese President Xi Jinping that the two countries have a "big opportunity" to work together for the benefit of their people and the world.
During his delegation-level talks as part of an unprecedented informal summit with President Xi in the central Chinese city, Modi said such informal summits should become a tradition between the two countries.
"I'll be happy, if in 2019, we can have such informal summit in India," Modi told Xi.
Modi said India and China have the responsibility to work for 40 per cent of the world population and the two sides have a big opportunity to work together for the benefit of their people and the world.
The summit in Wuhan - the favourite holiday spot of revolutionary Chinese leader Mao Zedong - is being seen as an effort by India and China to rebuild trust and improve ties that were hit by the 73-day-long Dokalam standoff last year.
Modi recalled that during the 2000 years of history, India and China together provided momentum and strength to the world economy and dominated it for around 1600 years.
"The two countries together constituted for about 50 per cent of the world economy and another 50 per cent was shared by rest of the world for 1600 years," the prime minister said.
Modi also said the people of India felt proud that President Xi has twice received him out of the capital.
"I'm perhaps the first Prime Minister of India, for whom, you have come out of the capital (Beijing) twice to receive me," Modi said, referring to his visit to Xi'an - the home town of President Xi in 2015.
On his part, President Xi said the two countries have established closer partnership and made positive progress in recent years.
"In the past five years, we have achieved a lot. We have met each other on many occasions," he said.
"Our two countries have established closer partnership and cooperation. We have have made positive progress. India and China have a combined population of 2.6 billion which provides enormous potential for development. The influence of our two countries is steadily rising in the region and the world," Xi told Modi.
Xi said he believes in future and the two leaders could meet in format like this from time to time.
"I look forward to in-depth communication with your excellency, and ensure we can build common understanding and help to take the China-India relationship to the next level," he said, ahead of their one-on-one dinner at a state guest house by the famous East Lake.
They will resume their one-on-one interaction tomorrow at 10 a.m (local time) with walks by the lake side, boat ride and wind up their talks over lunch, official sources here said.
This is fourth visit of Modi to China after he came to power in 2014. He is again due to visit China to take part in the SCO summit to be held at Qingdao city on June 9-10.