Government sources said Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to meet his counterparts from Pakistan and China at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) ministerial meeting in Uzbekistan on Wednesday, but will not attend either.
Government sources said Singh is flying to Uzbekistan to attend the SCO defense ministers’ meeting on Tuesday, which will deliberate on terrorism and global security concerns, as the Russia-Ukraine war is not over and Afghanistan will continue to fight. There is turmoil. Asked if there was any possibility of Singh meeting Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe and Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif separately outside the SCO summit, a ministry official said “no way”.
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India has been continuously blaming China for the standoff along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since May 2020, with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar saying relations between the two Asian tigers were going through a tough phase due to the violation of border understanding by Beijing.
Apart from the three countries, ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will also participate in the conference.
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Defense ministry sources, however, said that Singh has had one-on-one meetings with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Defense Minister Major General Bakhodir Nizamovich Kurbanov to take forward military cooperation. Apart from discussing other security issues, the minister is also expected to draw the attention of the Central Asian country to the opportunities that Atmanirbhar Bharat has offered in the defense sector.
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This will be the defense minister’s second visit to Tashkent in three years. Singh had signed several MoUs on training and capacity building between the higher military education institutions of the two countries during his last visit in November 2019. India had also opened its purse to a concessional line of credit of $40 million for the purchase of goods and services by Uzbekistan from India. In the same month, armies of both the countries conducted joint exercise “Dustlik 2019” at Chirchik training area near Tashkent.
23 August 2022