Xi starts trip on opposite coast; Modi unlikely to meet Sharif

New York, Sep 24 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a visit to the US which mirrors that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who started off on the East Coast and heads West, while the former landed in Seattle on the West Coast.

Meeting the galaxy of technology titans is high on both their agendas and Xi got a head start, meeting CEOs Tim Cook of Apple, Satya Nadela of Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and John Chambers, the executive chairman of CISCO, on Wednesday at a meeting in the Microsoft campus.

Modi will head West to meet them in the Silicon Valley.

While last year, Modi had a state visit in Washington during his UN visit, it is Xi’s turn this year.

In Washington, though, India had the edge.

The US-India strategic and commercial dialogue was held earlier this week. On the strategic front, the two countries have drawn closer together.

China with its moves into the South China Sea is seen as a potential threat by the US and Washington-New Delhi ties are viewed with suspicion in Beijing.

The two leaders converge at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where Modi will be the guest of the Chinese — the hotel was recently bought by a Chinese insurance company. But no bilateral meetings are scheduled between Modi and Xi.

Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is also scheduled to stay there, were not planning a bilateral meeting, said India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

But “if a casual handshake or ‘pullaside’ happens, you will see it,” he added in reply to a question.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is yet another guest at the famous luxury inn, but a meeting between them is not on the cards.

President Barack Obama and Modi have swapped hotels. Obama is set to check into the Palace Hotel where Modi stayed last year, and Modi moving into the Waldorf which hosted Obama last year like the 12 presidents before him.

Obama broke the long tradition reportedly over security concerns after the Waldorf was acquired by the Chinese.

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