Jaishankar, Rajnath Singh to meet Russia-China counterparts this week, U.S. and Quad next ...

Jaishankar, Rajnath Singh to meet Russia-China counterparts this week, U.S. and Quad next month

Despite tensions with China, India continues to balance with meetings with Russia-China and US-allies

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will meet with their Russian and Chinese counterparts next week for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting, while New Delhi is planning to host their American counterparts for the Indo-U.S. “2+2” talks as well as a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the “Quad”, including Australia and Japan in October, several officials confirmed. The plans for the meetings by the government indicates it is still pursuing both strategic formations despite rising tensions at the Line of Actual Control with China.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will leave for Moscow to “attend the SCO Defence Minister’s meeting” on September 3, the Minister’s office tweeted on Tuesday. He will attend the meeting alongside defence ministers of China and Pakistan, although the only bilateral meeting planned is with Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.

On September 4, Mr. Jaishankar will attend a virtual meeting of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) foreign ministers. He is then is due to fly to Moscow next week for the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting on September 10, as well as a bilateral meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov.

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Jaishankar will speak separately to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, their first face-to-face meeting since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began its aggressive moves at the LAC in May. On Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs said PLA actions were in “complete disregard to the understandings reached between the two foreign ministers and special representatives.”

Both Mr. Singh and Mr. Jaishankar’s visits are on track despite New Delhi’s decision to pull out troops from military exercises with 18 armies, hosted by Russia in Astrakhan this monthostensibly over the optics of exercising together while the armies are facing off at the LAC in Ladakh.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun confirmed on Monday that a meeting of ministers of the Quadrilateral is being planned “this fall”, and officials confirmed that it would be in October.

“There’s going to be meeting of the Quad, a ministerial meeting with the Quad this fall in Delhi — that’s the intention anyway — in person,” said Mr. Biegun while speaking at a U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) event. The meeting is expected to bring together Mr. Pompeo, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and the Japanese Foreign Minister who will be appointed once Prime Minister Abe’s successor is decided upon, just days before U.S. Presidential elections on November 3.

During another session at the event, former U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer also asked Mr. Jaishankar about the plans for the India-U.S. “2+2” meeting that would bring the Foreign and Defence Ministers together in Delhi.

“When officials meet, hopefully in person for the 2+2 meeting in late October, these talks will probably cover tensions with China, air and missile defence systems, anti-submarine warfare, the Indo-Pacific, broader cooperation with the Quad. We also could have a breakthrough in the last of the foundational agreements,” Mr. Roemer said. Mr. Jaishankar didn’t deny plans for the “2+2”, joking that Mr. Roemer appeared to have the agenda of “the meeting” already. Officials from the other Quad countries also said they were aiming to hold the meeting in late October.

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