Rajnath Singh meets AK Antony and Sharad Pawar, briefs them on Ladakh border row with China

By PTI
NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday met Congress leader AK Antony and NCP chief Sharad Pawar and is learnt to have briefed them about the border row with China in eastern Ladakh as well as the current situation in the region, people familiar with the development said.

The former defence ministers were also provided with some details about India’s military preparedness in the region during the meeting, which was also attended by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Army Chief Gen MM Naravane, they said.

The meeting is seen as an effort by Singh to reach out to the Opposition ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament beginning July 19.

However, there was no official comment about the meeting.

Earlier in the day, Leader of House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal also met opposition leaders, including Pawar and former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Congress has already indicated that it will raise the border row with China in the Parliament.

While Antony served as India’s defence minister from October 2006 to May 2014, Pawar held the post from June 1991 to March 1993.

On Wednesday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Dushanbe on the sidelines of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

During the talks, Jaishankar firmly conveyed to Wang that prolongation of the existing situation in eastern Ladakh was visibly impacting the bilateral ties in a “negative manner” and rued that there was no forward movement since the disengagement in Pangong lake areas in February.

At the meeting, the two foreign ministers agreed to hold the next round of military dialogue at the earliest to discuss all the remaining issues.

There has been a stalemate in the disengagement process between the two militaries in the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh after they withdrew troops and weapons from the Pangong lake areas in February following a series of military and diplomatic talks to resolve the standoff.

The standoff at multiple friction points in eastern Ladakh began in early May last year.

The two sides are now engaged in talks to extend the disengagement process to the remaining friction points.

India has been maintaining that full restoration and maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas is essential for the development of overall ties between the two sides.