Sitharaman arrives in China

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Beijing, April 23 (IANS) Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman arrived here on Monday to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) ministerial meeting, according to the Indian External Affairs ministry.

Sitharaman is here at the same time as Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is also here to attend the SCO meeting.

The Indian Defence Minister will also meet her Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the meeting, the ministry said in a tweet.

The SCO is a Eurasian intergovernmental organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

India, along with Pakistan, were granted full member status at the SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, in June last year.

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India-China ties were severely hit by the 73-day military stand-off in Doklam last year. Both sides are now trying to restore normalcy to their ties by stepping up bilateral exchanges.

China’s opposition to India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and its move to block bids at the UN to list Masood Azhar, chief of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, as a global terrorist, has irked New Delhi.

In addition, New Delhi has reservations about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which cuts through Pakistan-held Kashmir that is claimed by India.

The visit of Sitharaman and Suhma Swaraj comes ahead of an informal meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in China on April 27-28.

–IANS

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