DEFENCE Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a bilateral meeting with her Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, (SCO) Defence Ministers’ Meet at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan on Monday. She reached Bishkek on Sunday on a three-day visit. The SCO Defence Ministers will explore ways to further boost defence and security cooperation among the member countries in the wake of evolving security challenges in the region. India is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
The Defence Minister is currently in Kyrgyzstan on a three-day visit to attend the SCO meet, along with holding bilaterals with a handful of other member-countries on the summit’s sidelines. She is scheduled to attend the SCO Ministerial meeting later on Monday. The eight member-States will discuss ways to increase cooperation in combating terrorism, among other issues, during the meet.
The current Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting is being held in the run-up to the SCO summit, which is expected to take place from 14-15 June this year. In 2018, India participated in the SCO Defence Ministers’ meeting for the first time. Speaking at that meeting, Sitharaman had highlighted India’s keen interest in developing an expanded partnership with the broader Eurasian region. In 2018, India for the first time participated in the SCO defence exercises. The joint exercise was conducted by the Central Military Commission of Russia at Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk. The exercise involved tactical level operations in an international counterinsurgency or counter-terrorism environment under the SCO Charter.