Rajnath Singh meets Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Moscow

Rajnath Singh meets Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Moscow

China had sought meeting on sidelines of the SCO Defence Ministers conference.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting in Moscow on Friday. Details of the meeting, however, were not known.

Mr. Singh and Mr. Wei met in Moscow at 9.30 p.m. India time, a defence source said. The Chinese side sought the meeting between Mr. Singh and their Minister on Thursday, a second source said.

In comments on Thursday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar also confirmed that he would meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meet in Moscow on September 10.

Three-day visit

Mr. Singh is on a three-day visit to Russia for the combined meeting of Defence Ministers of the SCO, Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Member States in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of victory in the Second World War.

Earlier, he was in Russia in June to attend the Victory Day parade of the Second World War, which was also attended by Mr. Wei but there was no bilateral meeting then.

The meeting comes amid the ongoing four-month standoff in eastern Ladakh after the ingress of Chinese troops into Indian-held territory along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at several locations and undertook a massive military build-up.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Singh emphasised that “peaceful, stable and secure region of SCO member states, home to over 40% of the global population, demands a climate of trust and cooperation, non-aggression, respect for international rules, sensitivity to each other’s interest and peaceful resolution of differences.”

“I reaffirm today that India is committed to evolution of a global security architecture which will be open, transparent, inclusive, rules-based and anchored in international laws,” Mr. Singh stated.

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On the regional situation, Mr. Singh expressed concern at the security situation in Afghanistan and also the situation in the Persian Gulf and said the SCO contact group on Afghanistan is useful for “exchanging notes among SCO member States.” He also called upon the Gulf countries to resolve differences by “dialogue based on mutual respect, sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of each other.”

“We need institutional capacity to deal with both traditional and non-traditional threats — above all, terrorism, drug-trafficking and transnational crime,” Mr. Singh said reiterating India unequivocally condemns terrorism in “all forms and manifestations, and condemns its proponents.”

Naval exercise

In the Andaman Sea off the Strait of Malacca, Navies of India and Russia began the two day Indra 2020 war games on Friday. Due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Indra 2020 would be undertaken in a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ format, the Navy said.

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“The primary aim of exercise Indra Navy-20 is to further consolidate inter-operability built up by the two Navies over the years and also to enhance understanding and procedures for multi-faceted maritime operations,” the Navy said in a statement. Indra Navy is a biennial bilateral maritime exercise which began in 2003. India and Russia deployed three frontline ships each along with some integral helicopters for the exercise.

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