Rajnath holds talks with Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday held talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu and is learnt to have discussed the lingering border row in eastern Ladakh.

The talks took place hours after Li arrived in New Delhi to attend a meeting of defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) being hosted by India.

Li’s visit to India is the first by a Chinese defence minister after the eastern Ladakh border standoff began three years ago.

There is no official word yet on the meeting between Singh and Li.

The meeting between the two defence ministers took place days after the Indian and Chinese armies held 18th round of military talks on ending the border row.

In the Corps Commander talks on April 23, the two sides agreed to stay in close touch and work out a mutually acceptable solution to the remaining issues in eastern Ladakh at the earliest.

However, there was no indication of any clear forward movement in ending the row.

India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.

Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang is also set to visit India next week to attend a conclave of foreign ministers of SCO member countries in Goa. The meeting is slated for May 4 and 5.

On Thursday, Singh also held separate bilateral talks with his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Iran and Tajikistan.

India is hosting the SCO defence ministers’ meeting under its presidency of the grouping.

Defence ministers of China, Russia and other member nations of the SCO except Pakistan are attending the meeting in Delhi.

Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif will attend the meeting through virtual mode, officials said.