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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expected to visit Russia next week to attend SCO meet

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expected to visit Russia next week to attend SCO meet 2

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to visit Russia next week to attend a crucial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which is expected to deliberate on regional security scenario and geo-strategic developments, official sources said on Friday. The SCO defence ministers’ meeting is taking place at a time when two of its member countries, India and China, are locked in a bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh.

The sources said Singh is likely to leave for Moscow on September 3 as the meeting is expected to take place the next day.

It will be Singh’s second visit to Moscow since June. He had represented India at the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on June 24 that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

Russia has also invited External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to attend the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting on September 10.

When asked whether Jaishankar will travel to Moscow for the meeting, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday said the minister has received the invitation and a decision on his participation would be made known once it is taken.

In a related development, India will send a tri-services contingent to Russia to take part in a multilateral war game next month which will also be joined by China, Pakistan and a number of other SCO member nations.

Around 150 Indian Army troops, 45 Indian Air Force personnel and a number of Navy officers will form the Indian contingent for the exercise scheduled to be held in the Astrakhan region in southern Russia from September 15 to 26.

Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a standoff in several areas along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh for over three-and-a-half months. Both the countries are holding talks at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the dispute.

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 SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations which accounts for almost 44 per cent of the world population stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea.

The aim of the SCO is to maintain peace, stability and security of the region. India became a member of SCO in 2017.

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