Rajnath to attend SCO Defence Ministers’ meet in Russia

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Amid continuing tensions with China on the border in Ladakh since May, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to visit Russia next week for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers meeting. The meeting will be also be attended by his Chinese counterpart.

On September 10, the formal induction of the Rafale fighter jets into the Indian Air Force (IAF) is scheduled to take place at the Ambala air base in the presence of Mr. Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly.

Mr. Singh will be visiting Russia on September 3 and 4 for the SCO ministers meeting, an official source said on Friday. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is scheduled to visit Russia later for the SCO foreign ministers meeting on September 10.

Defence ties

“Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said he looked forward to meeting Rajnath Singh in Moscow next week. This was conveyed to Ambassador D.B. Venkatesh Varma today,” the Indian Embassy in Moscow said in a Tweet on Friday. Gen Shoigu visited the India defence pavilion at the ongoing Army 2020 expo at Kubinka outside Moscow.

The visit will be Mr. Singh’s second in the space of four months: he visited Russia in June for the Victory Day parade to mark the 75th anniversary of World War II during which he held talks with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov.

Later in September, from 15 to 26, an Indian military tri-service contingent will participate in the Russian Kavkaz 2020 strategic command-post exercise for which SCO member states, including China and Pakistan, have been invited.

Rafale induction

On July 29, five Rafale jets, three single-seaters and two twin-seater trainers, landed at Ambala air base, the home base of the No. 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron. These are part of the €7.87 bn Inter-Governmental Agreement with France for 36 jets in fly-away condition signed in September 2016.

Ms. Parly has been invited for the induction and is likely to attend. A formal confirmation is awaited, another source said. The second batch of Rafale jets are likely to arrive in India in October, a defence source said.

At the time of the arrival, the IAF had stated that the immediate focus is on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest and a formal induction ceremony would take place end of August.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 10:59:51 PM |

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