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Security, trade to figure in Russia, India, China foreign ministers’ meeting

Security issues, including India’s efforts to counter Pakistan-based terror groups and the situation in Afghanistan, and regional trade are expected in 15th meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2017 09:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a plenary session of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit, in Xiamen, China September 4, 2017. (REUTERS File Photo)

Security issues, including India’s efforts to counter Pakistan-based terror groups and the situation in Afghanistan, and regional trade are expected to top the agenda at a meeting between the foreign ministers of India, China and Russia in New Delhi on Monday.

The 15th meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral comes a month after Indian officials met their counterparts from Australia, Japan and the United States to discuss the revival of the “Quad”, an alliance focussed on the Indo-Pacific region.

It also marks the first visit to New Delhi by a senior Chinese official after a substantially stronger President Xi Jinping was given a second term by the ruling Communist Party.

Before the trilateral meeting, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will hold separate meetings with her Russian and Chinese counterparts, Sergei Lavrov and Wang Yi.

The trilateral meeting was originally scheduled for April but it could not be held then as China did not confirm its participation, apparently due to its anger over New Delhi’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by Beijing.

Since then, India-China relations have been strained by Beijing’s persistent efforts to block the designation of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council and the border stand-off at Doklam that lasted more than two months.

Indian officials have indicated that the trilateral meeting will focus on regional security, counter-terror efforts, issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region and coordination at regional and multilateral forums. India is also expected to make a push for named Pakistan-based groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the communique to be issued after the meeting.

Given the commitment of the three nations to fight all forms of terrorism, India is also expected to raise the blocking of Masood Azhar’s designation by China, apparently at the behest of its all-weather ally Pakistan.

The Russian foreign ministry has said the discussions are likely to include the situation in Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Korea peninsula. The fight against terrorism and drug trafficking and efforts to facilitate the exchange of information on international security are also likely to figure, Russian officials said.

The meeting also comes at a time when China and Russia have been moving closer on a number of global issues, including the situation in Afghanistan, while there is greater convergence between the foreign policies of India and the US.

The traditionally close ties between New Delhi and Moscow have also stagnated and been hit by some strain as Russia has moved closer to Pakistan, including the sale of military hardware and holding of annual war games.

Russia’s policies on Afghanistan, which have hewn closer to those of China, have also become a cause of worry for policy planners in New Delhi and Kabul.

First Published: Dec 11, 2017 09:31 IST