National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval attended a virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Chinese NSA Yang Jiechi on Wednesday, aimed at strengthening “political and security cooperation” within the five-nation grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
An official statement said “multilateralism and global governance, new threats and challenges to national security, and governance in new domains” were on the agenda for discussions.
Significantly, the NSA’s meeting was one of two multilateral events attended by India and China on a day that marked two years since the Galwan clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). On Wednesday, New Delhi also hosted a border security conference of SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) countries, that includes officials from China, Russia, Pakistan and Central Asian countries.
“With profound changes in the international landscape interwoven with a pandemic unseen in a century, our world has entered a new phase of turbulence and transformation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday, adding that China would work with BRICS members to “further consolidate political mutual trust, deepen political and security cooperation, uphold the five countries’ security and development interests, and contribute to world peace and stability”.
The virtual meeting came a week ahead of the BRICS summit on June 24 hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend along with Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of Brazil and South Africa.
This will be the first BRICS summit after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 this year, and will be watched closely for the discussions between the leaders. On Wednesday, Mr. Xi spoke to Mr. Putin, reaffirming China’s “mutual support” for “sovereignty and security”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also spoken to President Putin over the telephone several times since the beginning of the conflict, but this will be the first such occasion when all three leaders will be on a common platform along with Brazilian President Bolsonaro and South African President Ramaphosa, albeit virtually.
Meanwhile, the Border Security Force hosted the 21st meeting of the Experts Group and eighth meeting of the Heads of Border Authorities of the Competent Bodies of SCO member states in New Delhi.
The meetings on Wednesday, the two-year anniversary of the clashes in the Galwan valley where 20 Indian soldiers were killed in brutal clashes with Chinese soldiers, also signify an attempt by New Delhi and Beijing to downplay the differences between the two countries despite the stand-off between an estimated 100,000 soldiers on both sides of the boundary. Neither side made any statement on the anniversary of the Galwan clash. China has officially said four People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers were killed during the clash, although the number of casualties is believed to be higher. Since then, military commanders and diplomats have negotiated the drawdown of troops on both sides of the LAC at several points like Pangong lake, Gogra Point and Galwan, but have failed to make a breakthrough on patrol points in Depsang, PP15 just south of Galwan, and Chumar, in 15 rounds of talks. A 16th round is expected shortly, officials said.