Amid an apparent thaw in ties after 11 months of border strife, China’s President Xi Jinping may travel to India in the second half of this year to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders’ meeting, if the summit goes ahead in person.

China on Monday backed the BRICS summit to be hosted by India this year saying it’s willing to work with India and other member states to strengthen cooperation in various fields.

China attaches great importance to the BRICS cooperation mechanism and has always been committed to deepening the BRICS strategic partnership and consolidating the positive momentum of BRICS solidarity and cooperation, said the Chinese foreign ministry.

“We support India in hosting this year’s meeting,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said. “We will work with India and other members to strengthen communication and dialogue, and consolidate the three-pillar cooperation,” referring to economic cooperation, political and security cooperation, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Wang, however, did not specify whether Chinese President Xi Jinping would attend the summit expected to be held later this year.

On February 19, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar launched India’s BRICS 2021 website at the BRICS Secretariat at Sushma Swaraj Bhawan in New Delhi.

Expectations are that by the second half of the year, the summit will not have to be held virtually. While the Covid-19 situation will determine whether that is the case, other major summits in Europe and the United Kingdom are likely to take place this summer, before the BRICS meet.