China’s Defence Minister General Li Shangfu is set to meet with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh on Thursday, marking the first such meeting since the violent clash between troops of the two nations in the Galwan valley in May 2020. The two Defence Ministers’ meeting follows at least 19 rounds of talks between the military commanders of India and China amid the stand-off in the eastern Ladakh region. ‘The Defence Ministers will discuss amongst other issues matters concerning regional peace and security, counter-terrorism efforts within SCO, and an effective multilateralism,’ the government said in a statement today. General Li’s visit is part of the meeting of defence ministers of member-nations of the regional grouping Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The SCO mandates non-interference in the internal affairs of each nation.
Ahead of General Li’s visit, the Chinese Defence Ministry, on the 18th round of Corps Commander level meeting held on Sunday, said both sides have agreed to ‘speed up’ the settlement of ‘relevant issues’ linked to the stand-off in eastern Ladakh, besides safeguarding peace in border areas.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had met his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang last month on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Delhi, where Mr Jaishankar called the state of India-China relations ‘abnormal’.
General Li’s India visit is regarded as significant amid the stand-off along the Line of Actual Control, or LAC. General Li, considered close to Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Mr Singh are likely to discuss the progress of the military and diplomatic talks to resolve the stand-off. India is the chair of the SCO, an intergovernmental organization formed in 2001 with Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, besides India, as members. Two observer nations – Belarus and Iran – will also participate in the SCO Defence Ministers’ meeting in Delhi.