New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe in Russia Friday, marking the first direct face-to-face talks between the political leadership in New Delhi and Beijing since border tensions began early May.
At the meeting, sought by China, India is believed to have stressed the need to maintain peace and calm along the borders. The meeting began at 9.30 pm IST and lasted for two hours 20 minutes. More details about the discussions between the two sides are yet awaited.
The meeting between Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh and Chinese Defence Minister, General Wei Fenghe in Moscow is over. The meeting lasted for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
— रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) September 4, 2020
“This is the first high-level political meeting that has taken place between India and China ever since tensions broke out in May. It is a positive development,” a source in the defence and security establishment said.
Both sides, sources added, will inform their higher leadership about the finer details of the talks, which aim to bring down tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Throughout its talks with China, India has held its ground that tensions at the border can only be resolved if status quo ante is achieved, that is, if soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) return to the positions they held in April.
Singh is in Russia to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a multilateral grouping that includes New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing, Islamabad and some other Asian states. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is also expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Russia next week.
While the multiple rounds of military talks between India and China over the past few months (at the level of Lt Gen and below) have taken place in person, diplomatic dialogue has been restricted to video conferences on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Situation at border
Beginning May, China moved thousands of soldiers and equipment near the LAC and even intruded into Indian territory at Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Hot Springs Area, Gogra Post and Depsang Plains.
While the Chinese have withdrawn from the Indian territory of Galwan Valley, they remain in strength at other places.
India, too, has gone in for mirror deployment and inducted over 30,000 additional troops and equipment at eastern Ladakh. India has put all the three services – Army, Navy and IAF – on full operational alert.
Over the last weekend, India outflanked the Chinese troops and captured heights near the southern bank of the Pangong Tso and now dominates the territory.
This report has been updated with additional information