India meets China and Russia on sidelines of regional summit

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By Webdesk

India’s foreign minister is holding 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 in the tourist hub of Goa.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Thursday he had detailed talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on bilateral relations on the sidelines of the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.

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

India and China have been locked in an intense three-year confrontation that has seen thousands of soldiers stationed along their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region of the Himalayas.

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

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

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

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

Russia’s growing dependence on China

Analysts say India is likely to be concerned about Russia’s growing reliance on China as the invasion of Ukraine continues.

New Delhi’s relationship with Moscow, its Cold War ally, has remained strong. It has not condemned the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine and has emerged as the largest buyer of Russian crude oil amid Western attempts to cut Moscow’s oil revenues during the war with Kiev.

If Beijing gains more leverage over Moscow, it could be a concern for India, as it still buys most of its defense equipment from Russia.

Foreign ministers from the members of the SCO, a security pact dominated by Moscow and Beijing, have 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 will be held in July.

Pakistan, India’s arch-rival, is also a member of the SCO. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pays a visit to India by a senior Pakistani official for the first time in nearly a decade.

Zardari’s presence has sparked speculation of a thaw in tense relations between the two South Asian countries, though both ministers have dismissed speculation of bilateral talks.

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

The two countries have a history of acrimonious relations, mainly over Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan region that was divided between them but 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 had talks with SCO General Secretary Zhang Ming earlier on Thursday and was also expected to speak with Uzbekistan’s foreign minister.

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

India and Pakistan joined in 2017 and Iran will join later this year.

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