India’s foreign minister held talks on Thursday with counterparts from China and Russia ahead of a meeting of a Central Asian security forum.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said he had in-depth discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on bilateral ties. “The focus remains on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquility in border areas,” he tweeted after the meeting.
India and China are embroiled in an intense three-year standoff involving thousands of soldiers stationed along the disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region.
A meeting last week between their defense ministers gave insight into how differently the two countries view the situation along the border. While India accused its neighbor of eroding ties by violating bilateral agreements, China said conditions at the border were “stable overall”.
A clash three years ago in Ladakh killed 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers.
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Jaishankar also said he had a “comprehensive review of bilateral, global and multilateral cooperation” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Analysts say India will likely be concerned about Russia’s growing dependence on China as its invasion of Ukraine drags on.
New Delhi’s relationship with Moscow, its Cold War ally, has remained strong. But Beijing’s influence over Moscow could prove frustrating for India.
Foreign ministers of members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security pact dominated by Moscow and Beijing, arrived at India’s tourist hotspot of Goa, where they are expected to discuss deepening economic and security cooperation on Friday in the area. A summit of SCO leaders will be held in July.
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Pakistan, India’s arch-rival, is also a member of the SCO. Its foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is paying the first visit by a senior Pakistani official to India in nearly a decade. Zardari’s presence has sparked speculation of a thaw in tense relations between the two South Asian countries, although both ministers dismissed speculation of a bilateral chat.
“During my visit which is solely focused on the SCO, I am looking forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries,” Zardari tweeted before departing for India.
The two countries have a history of acrimonious relations, mainly over Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan region that was divided between them but is claimed by both in its entirety. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
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Jaishankar held talks with SCO secretary general Zhang Ming on Thursday and was also expected to speak with Uzbekistan’s foreign minister.
Russia and China founded the SCO in 2001 as a counterweight to US alliances across East Asia and the Indian Ocean. The group includes the four Central Asian nations: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which Russia considers its own backyard. In 2017, India and Pakistan became members, and Iran is expected to join later this year.