Border row: Rajnath holds talks with Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu

The discussion between the defence ministers occurred a few days subsequent to the 18th round of military negotiations between the Indian and Chinese troops, regarding the border conflict

Border row
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh holding discussions with his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu I @rajnathsingh / Twitter

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a discussion with his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu on Thursday (April 27).

The talks took place hours after Li arrived in New Delhi to attend a meeting of defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) being hosted by India.

Li’s visit to India is the first by a Chinese defence minister after the eastern Ladakh border row began three years ago.

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“The two Ministers had frank discussions about the developments in the India-China border areas as well as bilateral relations,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The ministry said Rajnath “categorically conveyed that development of relations between India and China is premised on prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders”.

He added that all issues at the LAC need to be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and commitments. He reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation, the statement added.

Also read: Ladakh row: India, China agree to work out ‘mutually acceptable resolution’

The Chinese Defence Minister is in Delhi to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ Meeting on April 28, 2023.

The meeting between the two defence ministers took place days after the Indian and Chinese armies held 18th round of military talks on ending the border row.

In the Corps Commander talks on April 23, the two sides agreed to stay in close touch and work out a mutually acceptable solution to the remaining issues in eastern Ladakh at the earliest.

However, there was no indication of any clear forward movement in ending the row.

India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang is also set to visit India next week to attend a conclave of foreign ministers of SCO member countries in Goa. The meeting is slated for May 4 and 5.

On Thursday, Singh also held separate bilateral talks with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Iran and Tajikistan.

India is hosting the SCO defence ministers meeting under its presidency of the grouping.

Defence ministers of China, Russia and other member nations of the SCO except Pakistan are attending the meeting in Delhi.

Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif will attend the meeting through virtual mode, officials said.

(With agency inputs)