New Delhi, Apr 25: India, as the Chair of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2023, will host the SCO Defence Ministers’ Meeting here on April 28, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to hold bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Gen Li Shangfu. Before the SCO meet, the 18th round of India-China Corps Commander-level talks was held on Sunday, but it failed to make headway on the contentious issue of the Depsang Plains and de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
The repeated attempts by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to violate the LAC, leading to tension in Ladakh, spurred the institution of the Corps Commander-level meetings.
While the two sides agreed on mutual withdrawals from PangongTso, Gogra, and Hot Springs, the Depsang Plains and Demchok remain points of contention and tension.
Now all eyes are now on the visit of the Chinese Defence Minister.
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), established in 2001, comprises Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan besides India. Apart from the member states, two observer countries - Belarus and Iran - will also be participating in the SCO Defence Ministers Meeting.
The Defence Ministers will discuss amongst other issues matters concerning regional peace and security, counter-terrorism efforts within SCO and effective multilateralism.
According to Defence Ministry officials, the theme of India’s Chairmanship of SCO in 2023 is ‘SECURE-SCO’. India attaches special importance to SCO in promoting multilateral, political, security, economic and people-to-people interactions in the region. The ongoing engagement with SCO has helped India promote its relations with the countries in the region with which India has shared civilisational linkages, and is considered India’s extended neighbourhood.
SCO pursues its policy based on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, non-interference in internal affairs, equality of all member states and mutual understanding and respect for the opinions of each of them.
Rajnath Singh is likely to hold bilateral meetings with other Defence Ministers of participating countries on the sidelines of the meet, the officials added.