'Violation of agreements eroded India-China relations', Rajnath Singh conveys to Chinese counterpart

MoD says issues at LAC need to be resolved as per existing bilateral pacts

Rajnath Singh meets China Defence Minister

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with Chinese counterpart General Li Shangfu in New Delhi on Thursday and said all issues in LAC must be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements.

Singh said this at a bilateral meeting with Li amid the three-year border row along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh that has significantly strained ties between the two sides.

The talks took place hours after Li arrived in New Delhi to attend a meeting of defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) being hosted by India on Friday. In a statement, the defence ministry said, “The two Ministers had frank discussions about the developments in the India-China border areas as well as bilateral relations.” Chinese Defence Minister is in Delhi to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on Friday.

“The Raksha Mantri categorically conveyed that development of relations between India and China is premised on prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders. He added that all issues at the LAC need to be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and commitments,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the minister reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation.

Li's visit to India is the first by a Chinese defence minister to India after the eastern Ladakh border standoff began three years ago.

The meeting between the two defence ministers took place days after the Indian and Chinese armies held 18th round of military talks on ending the three-year border row in eastern Ladakh. In the Corps Commander talks on April 23, the two sides agreed to stay in close touch and work out a mutually acceptable solution to the remaining issues in eastern Ladakh at the earliest.

However, there was no indication of any clear forward movement in ending the three-year row.

India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang is also set to visit India next week to attend a conclave of foreign ministers of SCO member countries in Goa. The meeting is slated for May 4 and 5. India is hosting the SCO defence ministers' meeting under its presidency of the grouping.

Defence ministers of China, Russia and other member nations of the SCO except Pakistan are attending the meeting in Delhi. “Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif will attend the meeting through virtual mode,” officials said.

(With PTI inputs.)

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