Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Annual Defence Ministerial Meeting to be held in Beijing on April 24. This is the first time that an Indian Defence Minister will be attending such a meeting, which will have the participation of SCO’s Secretary-General and Director, Executive Committee of RATS. The meeting reviews pressing global and regional security matters, coordinates action plans, and issues a Joint Communiqué.
The meeting will certainly offer an opportunity to reset India-China ties especially after last year’s 73-day long standoff at Doklam. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has just returned from Shanghai after meeting with the Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi on 13 April – both agreed to set ties on track in a comprehensive way.
The critical point is whether India is willing to join the SCO’s defence solidarity and coordination efforts defined under the “Shanghai Spirit”.
The agenda this year is to hold a Fanfare for Peace Military Tattoo in China and Peace Mission 2018, the Joint Counter Terrorism Military Exercise in Russia. India was part of this decision taken early this year when an Indian military delegation led by Major General Ajay Seth participated for the first time in a meeting of the international military cooperation departments of the SCO since joining the bloc last year.
Importantly, India and Pakistan also joined an anti-cyber-terrorism drill in Xiamen organised by the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) last December. It was designed to improve coordination in a scenario dealing with a terrorist group that had infiltrated into SCO countries. Apparently, Pakistan and India expressed willingness to actively participate in defence and security cooperation within the SCO framework to contribute to regional security and stability. Read More