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Rajnath to hold key meeting with Chinese Defence Minister today over disengagement on LAC

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will hold a crucial meeting with China’s new Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu in Delhi today as India continues to push for complete disengagement of Chinese troops from all the friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols.

Li, a General of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was appointed as China’s new Defence Minister on March 12. He is in the Indian capital to attend the meeting of Defence Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states that will take place on Friday.

India has made it clear to China that disengagement in the border areas is essential for the restoration of peace and tranquillity, which is the basis for the development of bilateral ties.

At the same time, the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also made it clear to Beijing that any attempts to transgress the LAC would be met with a firm response.

Addressing the senior leadership of the Indian Army during last week’s Army Commanders’ Conference, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed full confidence in the Army for any contingency along the Northern borders, asserting at the same time that ongoing talks for peaceful resolution will continue and disengagement and de-escalation remain the best way forward.

On Sunday, the 18th round of the India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side where the two sides had a “frank and in-depth” discussion on the issue so as to restore peace and tranquillity in the border areas, which will enable progress in bilateral relations.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that, in line with the guidance provided by the State Leaders and further to the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers in March 2023, both sides had an exchange of views in an open and candid manner.

“In the interim, the two sides agreed to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector. The two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” it stated.

Singh will chair Friday’s key SCO meeting which will also be attended by Defence Ministers of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan besides China. India has also invited Belarus and Iran, currently observers in SCO, to participate in the Defence Ministers’ meeting.

Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif would be participating in the meeting virtually while the country’s Army Chief, General Syed Asim Munir is currently on his first official visit to China.

Singh will also hold bilateral meetings with the Defence Ministers of Russia and other participating countries on the sidelines of the SCO meeting.

The ministers will discuss matters related to regional peace and security, counter-terrorism efforts within SCO and effective multilateralism.

“India has ancient civilizational, cultural and spiritual ties with the SCO member countries. India’s membership of SCO in 2017, was therefore, a reaffirmation of New Delhi’s keenness to deepen these historic ties. India considers SCO as an important regional group to promote multilateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interactions in the region,” said the Defence Ministry ahead of Friday’s meeting.

India has also affirmed that it stands committed to taking forward the agenda of SCO under its chairmanship and bringing more ideas and initiatives to strengthen cooperation amongst the SCO countries.

Also Read: Rajnath’s message to Army Commanders — be prepared for any contingencies along China border