Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu in New Delhi on Thursday (Image courtesy: PIB)
India on Thursday categorically conveyed to China at the first meeting of defence ministers since the 2020 Galwan clash that the development of relations between the two countries “is premised on the prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders”.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held “frank discussions” about the developments in the India-China border areas, as well as bilateral relations, at a crucial meeting with China’s new Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu in New Delhi on Thursday.
“The Raksha Mantri categorically conveyed that development of relations between India and China is premised on the prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders,” said a communique released after the meeting.
“He added that all issues at the LAC need to be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and commitments. He reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation,” the statement added.
India has been pushing for the 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.
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.
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.
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, emphasising 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.
⚡️Iran’s defence minister left for India to attend the SCO Defence Ministers’ Summit. pic.twitter.com/r6t8PN7ICY
— Iran Observer (@Iranobserver01) April 27, 2023
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.
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