Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently held bilateral talks with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Iran, Tajikistan, and China, who are all members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The discussions centered on various bilateral defense-related matters and regional security issues, including Afghanistan’s peace and stability. One of the topics of discussion was the International North-South Transport Corridor, which aims to alleviate logistics issues for Afghanistan and other Central Asian nations.
During the meeting, Singh also conveyed to Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu that the development of India-China ties is premised on peace at the boundary and all issues should be settled as per existing bilateral agreements. This is significant given the ongoing border row along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh that has strained ties between the two sides.
Singh will also meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, as well as the Defense Ministers of Belarus and Uzbekistan, during the SCO Defense Ministers Meeting. As India holds the Chairmanship of SCO in 2023, the theme for this year’s meeting is ‘Secure-SCO’, with a focus on fostering multilateral interactions in the region.
The SCO is an intergovernmental organization established in 2001, comprising Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, in addition to India. The SCO Defense Ministers Meeting also includes two observer nations, Belarus and Iran, in addition to the member states.