Jaishankar to join Chinese, Russian foreign ministers at RIC meet on Tuesday
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will join his Chinese and Russian counterparts at a virtual conference of the Russia-India-China trilateral on Tuesday, against the backdrop of New Delhi's frayed ties with Beijing over the Galwan Valley clashes.
As the June 15 incident triggered fears of fresh confrontation between troops of India and China, Russia is learnt to have reached out to both the countries, urging them to resolve the border row through talks.
People familiar with the matter said India was initially reluctant to join the Russia-India-China trilateral foreign ministers' meeting but agreed to participate in it following a request from Moscow, the host of the conference.
Interestingly, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday left for Russia on a three-day visit to attend a military parade in Moscow on June 24 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of victory of the Russian people in the second world war.
Officials said he will have a series of meetings with top Russian military brass. A senior Chinese leader is also expected to be in Moscow to attend the parade.
India lost 20 Army personnel in the violent hand-to-hand clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley on June 15, in the biggest ever confrontation between the two sides after a gap of 45 years.
In a telephonic conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi June 17, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called the clashes a "premeditated" action by Chinese PLA and said they will have a "serious impact" on the bilateral relationship.
Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava on Thursday confirmed Jaishankar's participation at the RIC meeting.
He said the meeting will deliberate on the coronavirus pandemic as well as issues relating to challenges to the global security and financial stability.
It is unlikely that the the border standoff between India and China will figure in the meeting as bilateral issues are usually not discussed under the trilateral format, sources said, citing convention.
"It will be a good opportunity for all the three countries to come together and discuss regional issues in order to synchronise our views to contribute to support regional stability," a senior diplomat told PTI last week on the condition of anonymity.
Russia has already said that India and China should resolve the border dispute through talks and that a "constructive" relationship between the two countries was important for regional stability.
The three foreign ministers are also expected to deliberate extensively on the evolving political situation in Afghanistan after the US inked a peace deal with the Taliban in February.
The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing the curtain on Washington's 18-year war in the country.
The meeting of the RIC foreign ministers is also expected to delve into key connectivity projects in the region including the implementation of the 7,200 km-long International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) linking India, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia with Europe.