Marking India’s first high-level political meet with China amid a simmering border row, defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday met his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, in Moscow. India and China have been involved in a bitter border standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
India has accused China of making a fresh attempt to change the status quo in the southern bank of Pangong Lake and said that the Chinese side “engaged in provocative military manoeuvres in the late night of 29th and on 30th August”.
Here’s what happened during Singh’s meeting with China’s Wei:
• The meeting between Singh and Wei took place on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in the Russian capital Moscow.
• Singh left on Tuesday for the SCO meet and on the same day, India accused China of resorting to provocative action a day earlier when it attempted to change the status quo on the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake even as military-level talks were underway. China’s actions this year have been in clear violation of agreements, India said in a statement issued by the ministry of external affairs.
• A day later, the Chinese side sought a meeting with Singh, HT had reported earlier this week. This was the third attempt made by the Chinese defence ministry for talks with Singh after the standoff erupted in early May.
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• On his third day in Moscow, Singh delivered an indirect message to China at the SCO’s ministerial meeting. “Peace and security in the SCO region demand a climate of trust, non-aggression, respect for international rules and peaceful resolution of differences,” he said.
• The Indian defence minister also spoke about the unilateral aggression between states and the need to refrain from it. “This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War as well as the formation of the United Nations which underpins a peaceful world, where international laws and sovereignty of states are respected and states refrain from unilateral aggression on another,” Singh said at the meet on Friday.
• After the defence minister’s address, Chinese and Indian delegations held their first high-level political face-to-face meeting later in the evening.
• In the meeting that lasted over two hours, Singh pushed for the restoration of status quo ante at all friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and called for disengagement of troops in an expeditious way during the much-expected meeting.
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• According to China’s official news agency, Xinhua, Wei told Singh that the responsibility of the ongoing tension lies entirely with India – an allegation that New Delhi has brushed off repeatedly, saying that the border aggression has actually been shown by the troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
• Singh was quoted by a Xinhua report in Mandarin from Moscow as saying that India hoped that two sides will “…adopt a responsible attitude, fully disengage front-line forces as soon as possible, avoid taking measures that may escalate or complicate the situation, and avoid turning differences into disputes so as to bring bilateral military relations back to the right track as soon as possible.”