Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu will visit India to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO meeting planned to be held on 27-28 April.
This will be the first time that a Chinese defence minister will be in India following the Galwan Valley clash between the troops of the two countries in June 2020.
India has also sent an invitation to Pakistan for its defence minister’s participation in the meeting. However, Islamabad is yet to confirm its participation.
Li Shangfu, a US-sanctioned Chinese military general, was named China’s new defence minister a month ago. He has been under US sanctions since 2018 and his appointment comes at a time of an increasingly strained relationship between Beijing and Washington.
The visit of the Chinese minister will take place when ties between India and China are also far from normal since they have not been able to resolve the military stand-off in eastern Ladakh despite umpteen rounds of military and diplomatic talks. The stand-off, which began in April-May 2020, has led to increased tensions in bilateral ties.
After the SCO Defence Ministers meeting, a meeting of the SCO Foreign Ministers is scheduled to be held on 5 May in Goa. For this meeting, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also confirmed his participation.
The SCO comprises India, Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Iran has also become a full-fledged member of the grouping and will formally join it at the summit in India.