NEW DELHI: The defense ministers of India and China are expected to hold talks in Moscow later on Friday, government officials said, the highest level face-to-face political contact since tensions flared along their disputed mountain border in May.
Both sides deployed additional forces along the frontier running through the western Himalayas, after a clash in June, during which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in hand-to-hand fighting. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was given clearance to meet his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Moscow, where both are attending a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting, an Indian government official said. The request for the meeting came from the Chinese side, the official added.
“Subsequently a green signal was given for the meeting,” the official said, asking not to be identified because of Indian service rules. There was no word from China, but Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s state-backed Global Times newspaper said on Twitter that a meeting between the defense ministers was expected.
Despite the brutality of the clash in June, both sides appeared to observe a protocol to avoid the use of firearms in the high altitude region. And while there have been no further clashes reported, the situation on the frontier remains tense. Military commanders and diplomats have been holding talks to end the standoff on the Line of Actual Control, or the de facto border, but there has been little progress.