India meets with China, Russia on sidelines of SCO summit

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FM Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (right) also said he had a 'comprehensive review of bilateral, global and multilateral cooperation' with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) [Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via Reuters]

India’s foreign minister holds talks with counterparts from China and Russia ahead of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

India’s foreign minister has held talks with counterparts from China and Russia ahead of a meeting of a Central Asian security forum being held in the tourist hub of Goa.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Thursday that he had detailed discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on bilateral ties on the sidelines of the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

“Focus remains on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquility in the border areas,” he tweeted after the meeting.

India and China are embroiled in an intense three-year standoff involving thousands of soldiers stationed along their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region in the Himalayas.

A meeting last week between their defence ministers gave a glimpse of just how differently the two countries view the situation along the border. While India accused its neighbour of eroding ties by violating bilateral agreements, China said the border conditions were “stable overall”.

A clash three years ago in Ladakh killed 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese.

Jaishankar also said he had a “comprehensive review of bilateral, global and multilateral cooperation” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang (left) pose for a photograph during the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Goa [India’s Ministry of External Affairs/Handout via Reuters]

Russia’s growing reliance on China

Analysts say India is likely to be concerned over Russia’s growing reliance on China as its invasion of Ukraine drags on.

New Delhi’s relationship with Moscow, its Cold War ally, has remained strong. It has failed to condemn the Kremlin for the invasion of Ukraine and has emerged as the largest buyer of Russian crude amid Western efforts to slash Moscow’s oil revenue during its war with Kyiv.

Beijing gaining more sway over Moscow could prove to be a concern for India, as it still buys the bulk of its defence equipment from Russia.

Foreign ministers from the members of the SCO, a security pact dominated by Moscow and Beijing, arrived in Goa, India, where they are expected to discuss deepening economic and security cooperation in the region on Friday. A summit of SCO leaders is to be held in July.

Pakistan, India’s archrival, is also a member of SCO. Its foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is making the first visit by a high-ranking Pakistani official to India in nearly a decade.

Zardari’s attendance has triggered speculation of a thaw in strained relations between the two South Asian countries, though both ministers have dismissed speculation of a bilateral chat.

“During my visit, which is focused exclusively on the SCO, I look forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries,” Zardari tweeted before setting off for India.

The two countries have a history of bitter relations, mainly over Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan region that was split between them but is claimed by both in its entirety. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Jaishankar held talks with  SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming earlier on Thursday and was also expected to speak with Uzbekistan’s foreign minister.

Russia and China founded the SCO in 2001 as a counterweight to United States alliances across East Asia to the Indian Ocean. The group includes the four Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which Russia considers its backyard.

In 2017, India and Pakistan became members, and Iran is set to join later this year.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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