Foreign ministers of Russia-India-China to hold virtual meeting on June 22
The foreign ministers of Russia, India and China are expected to hold a meeting via video conference on June 22, people familiar with developments said on Saturday, against the backdrop of heightened tensions between New Delhi and Beijing due to a border stand-off.
The meeting of the foreign ministers of the RIC (Russia-India-China) grouping is being convened at the initiative of Moscow and is largely focused on enhancing cooperation to tackle the fallout of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.
“The three sides are working on the agenda for the meeting and this is expected to be finalised by early next week,” said a person familiar with planning for the meeting.
The people pointed out that the meeting had been in the pipeline for some time and wasn’t in any way linked to the flaring up of tensions between India and China over a weeks-old tense standoff between border troops along the Line of Actual Control, especially in Ladakh sector.
This would also be the first meeting to be joined by external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi since the stand-off along the LAC became public. Both leaders had joined a virtual meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on May 13, but at that time the full details of the stand-off hadn’t become public.
HT had first reported on violent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in certain stretches of the LAC on May 10, though the stand-off involving thousands of troops from both sides hadn’t become public at that time.
There was no official word from the Indian side regarding the June 22 meeting, which is yet to be formally announced. It was also not clear whether the border stand-off could figure in the discussions, especially since India has clearly said there is no room for intervention by any third party in the matter. The Indian government had made its position clear after US President Donald Trump recently offered to mediate between India and China.
The Russian side has repeatedly said in recent days that it hopes India and China will take steps to de-escalate tensions. Moscow’s relations with both New Delhi and Beijing are currently very good, and both Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev and deputy chief of mission Roman Babushkin have, in remarks to the Indian media, spoken of the need for easing of tensions for regional stability.
Kudashev said Russia is confident that India and China will be guided commitments made by the Indian and Chinese leadership during their two informal summits and work for peace and tranquillity on the border. He also said Russia is looking toward further engagements in the RIC, SCO and Brics (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) groupings to enhance mutual trust and stability.
Babuskin said Russia was “worried” about the situation along the LAC but also confident that India and China will find a way out by using existing mechanisms to handle such issues. He also said a constructive India-China relationship is key to regional stability.
India has said it has engaged with China through diplomatic and military channels to find an “early resolution” to the boundary issue.