Rajnath Singh Briefs Sharad Pawar, AK Antony On China Border Row

General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, and General Manoj Mukund Naravane were also present at the meeting

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh brief about China border row to two former Defence Ministers

New Delhi:

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with Congress leader AK Antony and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and briefed them about the situation along the border with China. Both Mr Antony and Mr Pawar are former Defence Ministers.

General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, and General Manoj Mukund Naravane were also present at the meeting.

The meeting took place ahead of the monsoon session of parliament scheduled to start on July 19. The interactions with senior opposition leaders are being seen as an outreach exercise by the government ahead of the session.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has long been criticising the government alleging India has "ceded" territory to China. Indian and Chinese soldiers had clashed in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley in June last year.

In a parliament strategy meet chaired by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the Congress has decided to raise the border issue with China in the coming monsoon session of parliament, sources have said.

Mr Pawar also met with newly-appointed Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, Piyush Goyal, today.

The session beginning Monday will end on August 13. The government has listed 17 new bills for introduction, including three to replace ordinances issued recently.

Rajnath Singh's meeting with the two former Defence Ministers also comes a day after India and China agreed that solving the border row should be prioritised as a prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi had met in Tajikistan during the Foreign Ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, an eight-nation regional grouping that primarily focuses on security and defence issues.

"...It was visibly impacting the relationship in a negative manner," the government said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to the border situation.

The Foreign Minister pointed out to his Chinese counterpart that the successful disengagement in the Pangong lake area earlier this year had created conditions for resolving the remaining issues. It was expected that the Chinese side would work with India towards this objective, but the situation in remaining areas is still unresolved, Mr Jaishankar said, according to a statement by the government.