Amid heightened border tensions in eastern Ladakh, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday held talks in Moscow with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Indian Ambassador to Russia DB Venkatesh Varma are part of the Indian delegation at the talks that began shortly after 9:30pm (IST) at a prominent hotel in the Russian capital.
According to sources, the focus of the talks between the two defence ministers was on ways to resolve the prolonged border standoff.
Singh and Wei are in Moscow to attend a meeting of the defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which took place earlier in the day.
It is the first highest level face-to-face meeting between the two sides after the border row escalated in eastern Ladakh early in May. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has previously held telephonic talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the standoff.
Sources in the Indian government said the meeting has been requested by the Chinese defence minister.
Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a bitter standoff in multiple places in eastern Ladakh. Tensions flared up in the region after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake five days ago when the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the festering border row.
India occupied a number of strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong lake and strengthened its presence in Finger 2 and Finger 3 areas in the region to thwart any Chinese actions. China has strongly objected to India's move. However, India has maintained that the heights are on its side of the LAC. India has also rushed in additional troops and weapons to the sensitive region following the Chinese attempts.
In his address at the SCO ministerial meet earlier on Friday, Singh said peace and security in the region demand 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.
Jaishankar is also scheduled to travel to Moscow next week to attend a meeting of the foreign ministers of the SCO on September 10. He is expected to have a meeting with Wang on the sidelines.
Army Chief General MM Naravane is currently on a two-day visit to Ladakh to carry out a comprehensive review of the security situation in the region in view of the Chinese attempts.