SCO Meet: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday (May 4) held a bilateral talk with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Goa on the sidelines of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting. The Chinese and Russian Foreign Ministers are in Goa to attend the two-day-long meeting of foreign ministers of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which got underway today in the coastal state.
Meeting with China
The meeting with Jaishankar and Gang went on for about one hour and 20 minutes. The meeting was focused on addressing the border row along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. The discussions on the sidelines of the SCO meeting came amid the three-year-long border row in eastern Ladakh.
After the meeting, the EAM in a tweet said that the discussion with the Chinese counterpart was focused on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas. "A detailed discussion with State Councillor and FM Qin Gang of China on our bilateral relationship. Focus remains on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas. Also discussed SCO, G20 and BRICS," he tweeted.
‘Second meeting in two months’
This was the second meeting between Jaishankar and Gang meeting in the last two months. The Chinese foreign minister visited India in March to attend a meeting of the G20 foreign ministers. On the sidelines of the meeting, Jaishankar held talks with Qin during which he conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that the state of India-China relations is "abnormal" because of the lingering border row in eastern Ladakh.
Last week Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in the national capital. This was the first time the defence ministers of both countries held bilateral talks since the Galwan Valley standoff in 2020.
'Violation of existing agreements eroded entire basis of bilateral ties'
Singh told his Chinese counterpart at a meeting that China's violation of existing border agreements "eroded" the entire basis of ties between the two countries and that all issues relating to the frontier must be resolved in accordance with the existing pacts. The meeting on April 27 took place in New Delhi on the sidelines of a conclave of the SCO defence ministers.
India and China ties
The ties between India and China nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades. The Indian and the Chinese troops are locked in a standoff in a few friction points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh for the last three years though they disengaged in several places following a series of military and diplomatic talks. India has been maintaining that the relationship between the two countries should be based on "three mutuals" -- mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests.
The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area. As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of the Pangong Lake and in the Gogra area.
Meeting with Russia
Jaishankar held wide-ranging talks with his Russian counterpart Lavrov on overall bilateral cooperation, the Ukraine conflict and regional as well as global issues of mutual interest.
The Russian foreign minister landed in Goa this morning to attend the SCO conclave, a day after Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the Kremlin with drones in an unsuccessful attempt to kill President Vladimir Putin.
Jaishankar and Lavrov reviewed the overall trajectory of bilateral engagement in the backdrop of the global geopolitical upheaval, people familiar with the matter said. There is no clarity yet on whether trade-related issues figured in the talks.
"Comprehensive review of our bilateral, global and multilateral cooperation with FM Sergey Lavrov of Russia. Appreciated Russia’s support for India’s SCO presidency. Also discussed issues pertaining to G20 and BRICS," Jaishankar said in a tweet.
India's trade deficit with Russia
India has been pressing Russia for urgently addressing the trade imbalance that has been in favour of Moscow. India's trade deficit with Russia jumped significantly in the last few months after it procured significant volumes of discounted crude oil from that country in the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis. The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations. India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been pushing for resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.
EAM Jaishankar meets foreign minister Bakhtiyor Saidov
EAM Jaishankar also met foreign minister Bakhtiyor Saidov of Uzbekistan on the sidelines of SCO meet. After the meeting, he appreciated Uzbekistan’s strong support for India’s SCO presidency.
Welcomed FM Bakhtiyor Saidov of Uzbekistan on his first visit to India in this capacity. Appreciated Uzbekistan’s strong support for India’s SCO presidency. Also recognized our long standing multilateral cooperation. Confident our bilateral partnership in different domains will continue to grow," he tweeted.
About SCO summit
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017. India was made an observer at the SCO in 2005 and has generally participated in the ministerial-level meetings of the grouping, which focus mainly on security and economic cooperation in the Eurasian region.
India has shown a keen interest in deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
(With PTI inputs)