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In 2.20 hours talks with Chinese defence minister, Rajnath made strong pitch for status quo ante


New Delhi, Sep 05: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during his 2.20-hour talks with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe at Moscow pushed for restoration of status quo ante at all the friction points in Eastern Ladakh.

Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Indian Ambassador to Russia D B Venkatesh Varma were part of the Indian delegation at the talks that began at around 9:30 pm(IST) at a prominent hotel in Moscow following a request from Gen. Wei.

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"The meeting between Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh and Chinese Defence Minister, General Wei Fenghe in Moscow is over. The meeting lasted for 2 hours and 20 minutes," Singh's office tweeted.

A source familiar with the developments told OneIndia that the Indian delegation strongly objected to the fresh attempt made by China to change the status quo in the southern bank of Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh. The delegation insisted on the resolution through talks.

The Indian side said that there should be restoration of status quo ante at all friction points in Eastern Ladakh.

Hours before the talks, Singh, in his address at the SCO ministerial meet, said peace and security in the region demands a climate of trust, non-aggression, peaceful resolution of differences and respect for international rules.

Singh's comments in the presence of the Chinese defence minister was seen as a veiled message to China over the border row in eastern Ladakh.

In his address, Singh referred to the Second World War and said its memories teach the globe the "follies of aggression" of one state upon another that brings "destruction" to all.

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"Peaceful stable and secure region of SCO member states, which is home to over 40 per cent of the global population, 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," Singh said.

The meeting took place amid heightened tensions between the two countries triggered by China's fresh attempts to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake.

As both sides increased deployment of troops in Ladakh, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane, wrapping up a two-day visit to the region, said the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is "tense" but added that the nation can count on the Indian Army.

"The situation along the LAC is tense. We have undertaken precautionary deployment in some areas. The troops are prepared for all contingencies that may arise. All these actions have been carried out only along the LAC," he said after holding a series of meetings with top army commanders.

Separately, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said there will be no compromise on India's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and asserted it cannot be "business as usual" in bilateral ties unless there is peace and tranquillity in the border areas. At the same time, he said India is open to resolving outstanding issues through dialogue.

"This is one of the most serious challenges we have faced in many decades," he said, adding, "we have not seen this magnitude of amassing of forces on the border also in recent years". Shringla was speaking at an Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) webinar.

(With agency inputs)

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