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Indian, Chinese defense ministers in Moscow to ease border tension in Ladakh

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In a bid to break the continuing deadlock in the ongoing military confrontation in eastern Ladakh since early-May, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Moscow,.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting which is attended by Indian and Chinese Defense Ministers.

It is the first highest level face-to-face meeting between the two sides after the border row escalated in eastern Ladakh in early May. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has previously held telephonic talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the border standoff.

There was no official word on the outcome of the meeting between the two defense ministers, which began at 9.30 pm Indian time and continued till late on Friday night, according to Times of India.

However, a statement on Chinese Defense Ministry website said Wei told Singh the sides should ''cool down'' the situation and ''maintain peace and tranquility.'' However, it said responsibility for the tension ''lies completely with India.'' ''Not one inch of Chinese territory can be lost,'' the Ministry of Defense said.

China had sought the meeting, which took place at Hotel Metropole where Rajnath Singh is staying, after Indian troops undertook a preemptive military maneuver to occupy multiple heights in the Chushul sector on August 29-30, the Times of India said.

At earlier India-China talks, India has insisted that China restore status quo as it existed in April by withdrawing its forces from the face-off sites at Pangong Tso, Gogra and Depsang, while also reducing its military build-up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A U.S. government source told Reuters in Washington that the U.S. assessment is that neither China nor India are interested in pushing the dispute to the point that they would engage in war.

Earlier in the day, taking a swipe at China without naming it, Rajnath Singh told the SCO ministerial meet that a peaceful, stable and secure region "demands a climate of trust and cooperation, non-aggression, respect for international rules and norms, sensitivity to each other's interest and peaceful resolution of differences".

Rajnath Singh said all member-countries of the SCO, which is home to over 40% of the global population, should work towards the objective of cooperation and non-aggression.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was established on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China). Its current members are: India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO has six dialogue partners: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.

The main objective of the SCO is making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region and strengthening mutual trust and neighborliness among the member states.

Meanwhile, Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar is schedule to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on September 10, also on the sidelines of a SCO ministerial meet in Moscow.

Situation along LAC serious

Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane on Friday said that the situation along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) was "delicate and serious" and the army has taken some precautionary measures to enhance security in the wake of the ongoing developments, Hindustan Times reported.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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