India and China hold 18th round of talks ahead of Chinese Defence Minister’s visit to India for SCO meeting
India and China held the 18th round of Corps Commander Level talks on April 23 at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Chinese side. The talks took place days ahead of Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu's planned visit to India to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on April 27 and 28. The two ministers had “frank and in-depth” discussions about the developments in the India-China border areas as well as bilateral relations, with the Indian Defence Minister conveying that the development of relations between the two countries is premised on the prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders.
This visit by the Chinese Defence Minister to India comes after a deadly clash between Indian and Chinese troops in 2020, which was the most serious military conflict between the two nations in decades. The continuing violations at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have “eroded” the entire basis of bilateral ties, according to the Indian Defence Minister. The two sides agreed to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector and to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels to work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.
The SCO Defence Ministers' Meeting is taking place in New Delhi on April 27 and 28, where Defence Ministers of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Belarus, and Iran are set to participate. India, which is hosting the meeting under its presidency of the grouping, considers SCO an important regional group to promote multilateral, political, security, economic, and people-to-people interactions in the region. The Defence Ministers will discuss matters related to regional peace and security, counter-terrorism efforts within SCO, and effective multilateralism.
The Indian Defence Minister also discussed with his Chinese counterpart the development of the International North South Transport corridor to ease logistic problems to Afghanistan and other countries in Central Asia. The two sides agreed to maintain security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector, and India reiterated that all issues at the LAC need to be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and commitments.
Though it is not confirmed whether or not Li will hold an official bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh, the visit by the Chinese defence chief to New Delhi assumes significance as the militaries of the two Asian neighbours are yet to fully disengage along the LAC in Ladakh area of disputed Jammu and Kashmir. The two sides agreed to stay in close touch and work out a mutually acceptable solution to the remaining issues in eastern Ladakh at the earliest.
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