New Delhi on Tuesday denied Beijing’s claim that India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to meet his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Moscow on Wednesday, NDTV reported. An unidentified defence ministry spokesperson said there were no plans for the two ministers to hold a meeting.
China on Tuesday said that Wei, who is also its state counsellor, is likely to meet Singh when Singh attends the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on Wednesday, The Global Times reported. Singh began his three-day visit to Russia on Monday. The newspapers cited sources to claim that Wei will attend the parade.
Qian Feng, the director of the research department at Tsinghua University’s National Strategy Institute, told the Global Times that the possibility of Wei meeting Singh was very high.
“It is possible that the Chinese and Indian sides will hold a formal meeting,” he said. “Russia is the host country, and the three countries are all members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and Russia can bring them together. China and India should not give up this chance for talks. Even if they are not formal talks, both countries’ defense ministers can still speak informally.”
Diplomatic relations between India and China have been strained since a violent clash between soldiers of the countries at Galwan Valley in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control on June 15. At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the clash, and 76 were injured. China has not released its casualty figure, but denied earlier on Tuesday that over 40 soldiers were killed.
The Indian Army has said that there was a “mutual consensus to disengage” at the second round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China, held on Monday. The first round of Corps Commander talks was held on June 6, but the agreement was violated on June 15 when the clash began. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Indian and Chinese militaries held a meeting on June 22 to resolve the standoff on the border through talks.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday that Russia, India and China should “maintain strategic autonomy” and “properly handle” sensitive matters in bilateral ties, the Hindustan Times reported. Speaking at the Russia, India and China, or RIC, virtual foreign ministers’ meeting, Wang also said the three countries should “overall maintain a good relationship”.
India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were also part of the meeting.
Wang recommended that the three countries establish a tripartite ministerial dialogue mechanism in the fields of economy, trade, energy, transportation, education, culture, and health. He also opined that a panel of experts and “celebrities” should to provide suggestions to deepen tripartite cooperation.
Wang also called for cooperation between the three countries on tackling the coronavirus pandemic, saying they should “jointly promote international anti-epidemic cooperation, resolutely resist stigmatising the epidemic situation, and support the World Health Organization. In an indirect reference to the United States, the Chinese foreign minister said some countries have been disrupting the global order even as the pandemic rages.