New Delhi: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping shook hands at the G20 meet in Bali last week, Defence Ministers of both nations are expected to meet in the Cambodian capital city Phnom Penh.
PM Modi and President Xi’s informal meet at G20 was the first face-to-face encounter between the two leaders in public since the start of the military standoff in Ladakh more than two years ago.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe will be attending the ADMM-Plus conclave.
A bilateral meeting between Singh and Wei is likely while an official confirmation regarding the same is awaited, as per a report by the Times Of India.
The Defence Ministers of the ASEAN countries will be meeting in Phnom Penh on Tuesday and Wednesday to attend ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus and the India-ASEAN Defence Ministers meeting.
Cambodia, as the chair of ADMM-Plus, is hosting the ninth annual meeting at Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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On Saturday, the Chinese defence ministry said Wei would participate in the conclave in Cambodia, PTI reported citing Sputnik news agency. In fact, China is ready to hold a meeting with his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, on the margins of the ADMM-Plus this week, Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Tan Kefei said on Sunday.
The ADMM Plus will also bring the Defence Ministers of the Quad grouping together – a partnership formed by India, Australia, Japan, and the United States to confront China in the Indo-Pacific area.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Cambodia from November 22-23. Singh will be visiting the nation at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence of Cambodia Samdech Pichey Sena TEA Banh.
Bilateral Meeting Yet To Be Confirmed
A bilateral meeting between both the Indian and Chinese Defence Ministers is not confirmed by the defence ministry or the ministry of external affairs. It is to be noted that Modi and Xi did not have any formal bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the recently concluded G20 summit.
Both Defence Ministers last met for bilateral talks on the sideline of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Moscow in September 2020. This meeting came months after the May 2020 violent face-off in Galwan Valley.
‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’
India and the ASEAN elevated their relationship to ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ – as a mark of celebrating 30 years of ties. “To commemorate 30 years of India-ASEAN relations, India and Cambodia will co-chair the maiden India-ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting on November 22, presided over by Rajnath Singh. Various initiatives to boost the India-ASEAN partnership are planned to be announced during the meeting,” the defence ministry mentioned in a statement.
Apart from the ADMM-Plus and India-ASEAN Defence Ministers’ meeting, Singh will hold bilateral discussions with Defence Ministers of the participating countries. Singh is expected to discuss defence cooperation and discuss ways to further strengthen the mutually beneficial engagements, the defence ministry said.
India became the dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1992 and the inaugural ADMM-Plus was convened in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 12, 2010.
Since 2017, ADMM-Plus ministers have been meeting annually to further the dialogue and cooperation between ASEAN and the Plus countries.
(With Agency Inputs)