- "We have received a meeting request. A meeting is likely," sources said
- Chinese Defence Minister is believed to have asked for the meeting
- Rajnath Singh is in Moscow to attend a meeting of SCO defence ministers
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday met his Chinese counterpart in Moscow, where both are attending a three-day event, in the first high-level contact of its kind since a serious standoff erupted between the two countries in Ladakh in May.
Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghi had asked for the meeting on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet in the Russian capital. In a message before the meeting, Mr Singh said peace and security in the region demands a climate of trust, non-aggression, peaceful resolution of differences and respect for international rules.
Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Indian Ambassador to Russia D B Venkatesh Varma were part of the Indian delegation at the talks that began at around 9:30 pm Indian time at a prominent hotel in Moscow. The meeting lasted for two-and-a-half hours.
"Peaceful stable and secure region of SCO member states, which is home to over 40 per cent of the global population, demands a climate of trust and cooperation, non-aggression, respect for international rules and norms, sensitivity to each other's interest and peaceful resolution of differences," Mr Singh said at the ministerial meet of the SCO, in the presence of the Chinese Defence Minister.
Both India and China are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO, an eight-nation regional grouping that primarily focuses on security and defence issues.
Talks between military officials of the two countries have achieved little since the deadly clash in June. The latest escalation in hostilities came after a brief pullback by the two sides in some areas. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has also held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the phone.
Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a tense border row in eastern Ladakh since May. In June, 20 soldiers laid down their lives for India in a clash with Chinese troops at Galwan valley. China also suffered an unspecified number of casualties.
Tension flared up again after Chinese troops tried to occupy territory in the south bank of Pangong Lake last Saturday and again on Monday. Indian forces were prepared and prevented these attempts to "unilaterally alter the status quo" at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the government said.
India has now taken control of a number of strategic heights in the region and has also rushed in additional troops and weapons following the Chinese attempts. The attempts were made even as the two nations were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the border row.
Separate from Mr Singh's message, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said there will be no compromise on India's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and asserted it cannot be "business as usual" in bilateral ties unless there is peace and tranquillity in the border areas. At the same time, he said India is open to resolving outstanding issues through dialogue.
(With inputs from PTI)