Rajnath Singh holds talks with Chinese Defence Minister in Moscow

Amid heightened border tension in eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday held talks in Moscow with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe.

Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Indian Ambassador to Russia D B Venkatesh Varma are part of the Indian delegation at the talks that began at around 9:30 PM (IST) at a prominent hotel in the Russian capital.

It is the first highest level face-to-face meeting between the two sides after the border row escalated in eastern Ladakh in early May. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has previously held telephonic talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the border standoff.

Singh and Wei are in Moscow to attend a meeting of the defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which took place earlier in the day.

Indian government sources said the meeting has been requested by the Chinese defence minister.

Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a bitter standoff in multiple places along the Line of Actual Control(LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

Tensions flared up in the region again after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake five days ago when the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the prolonged border row.

India occupied a number of strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong lake and strengthened its presence in Finger 2 and Finger 3 areas in the region to thwart any Chinese actions. China has strongly objected to India’s move. India has, however, maintained that the heights are on its side of the LAC.

India has also rushed in additional troops and weapons to the sensitive region following China’s transgression attempts.

Army Chief Gen MM Naravane is currently on a two-day visit to Ladakh to carry out a comprehensive review of the security situation in the region in view of the Chinese attempts.

Trust key for regional peace: Rajnath

Peace and security in the SCO region demands a climate of trust, non-aggression, respect for international rules and peaceful resolution of differences, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday, seen as an indirect message to China which is engaged in a festering border row with India in eastern Ladakh.

In his address at a ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) here in the Russian capital, Singh also referred to the Second World War and said its memories teach the globe the “follies of aggression” of one state upon another that brings “destruction” to all.

Both India and China are members of the SCO, an eight-nation regional grouping which primarily focuses on issues relating to security and defence.

“Peaceful stable and secure region of SCO member states – which is home to over 40 per cent of the global population, demands a climate of trust and cooperation, non-aggression, respect for international rules and norms, sensitivity to each other’s interest and peaceful resolution of differences,” Singh said.

He made the comments in the presence of Chinese Defence Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe.

Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a bitter standoff in multiple places in eastern Ladakh for four months. Tensions flared up in the region after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake five days back.