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Rajnath Singh Reaches Russia For Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Meet

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Moscow on a three-day visit to Russia. (File)


Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday arrived in Moscow on a three-day visit to Russia to attend a crucial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu on further boosting bilateral defence cooperation.

The defence ministers of all eight SCO member nations are expected to deliberate on regional security challenges like terrorism and extremism and ways to deal with them collectively here on Friday, officials said.

The meeting is taking place under the shadow of a fierce border row between India and China, both members of the influential bloc.

The SCO comprises eight member states — India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Chinese Defence Minister Gen Wei Fenghe and Pakistan’s Pervez Khattak are expected to attend the SCO meeting.

Asked about the possibility of a bilateral meeting between Mr Singh and Mr Wei on the sidelines of the SCO event, officials said there is no such plan.

Before departure, Mr Singh in a tweet said that issues of mutual interest will figure in his talks with Mr Shoigu.

“India and Russia are privileged Strategic Partners. Looking forward to further this partnership during my visit,” he said.

In his meeting with Mr Shoigu, Mr Singh will press for expediting supply of a number of weapons systems, ammunition and spares to India by Russia under contracts which were concluded earlier, officials said.

In the talks, both sides are expected to officially finalise a long-pending proposal to produce AK 203 rifles in India.

The officials said Mr Singh is also likely to request the Russian side to ensure the timely delivery of the S-400 missile defence systems to India. The delivery of the first batch of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to India is scheduled by the end of 2021.

It is Mr Singh’s second visit to Moscow since June. He had represented India at the Victory Day Parade in Moscow on June 24 that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations which accounts for almost 44 per cent of the world population stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea.

The aim of the SCO is to maintain peace, stability and security of the region. India became a member of the SCO in 2017.