China reassures Russia and India to deepen ‘cooperation’

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang has assured his Russian and Indian counterparts of deepening bilateral relations, promising that “coordination and cooperation” will only get stronger, in a show of solidarity with two of China’s largest neighbours.

Chen met in India on Thursday with other foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a bloc of countries covering most of the Eurasia region, as Beijing seeks to maintain stable relations with countries in the region as relations with the West, especially Washington, remain tense.

The United States has long urged China to help resolve the war in Ukraine even though Beijing has refused to condemn Russia’s military moves as an invasion. In a historic move last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke directly to Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since Moscow sent its troops into Ukraine.

During his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting, Qin said China is “ready to maintain contact and coordination with Russia to make concrete contributions to the political settlement of the crisis” in Ukraine.

The two sides also agreed to enhance communication and coordination with other SCO member states and maintain the “unity” of the bloc, according to a statement from China’s foreign ministry on Friday.

In addition, they agreed to enhance coordination in the Asia-Pacific region, the ministry said, without elaborating.

Currently, the bloc includes Russia, India, China, Pakistan and four Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. An Indian foreign ministry official said that Iran and Belarus are expected to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at a summit in New Delhi in July.

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In a separate meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Chen said China is willing to deepen “coordination and cooperation” on international and regional issues with India and restore relations to a “healthy” path of development.

China’s relations with India have deteriorated since 2020 when their forces clashed over a disputed border in the Himalayas and 24 people were killed. Last month, Beijing published a map showing Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by India, as part of Tibet, angering New Delhi.

Chen told Jaishankar that the situation at the border was “generally stable”.

“We should draw experiences and lessons from history, understand bilateral relations from a strategic level and a long-term perspective, respect each other, learn from each other, and achieve mutual success,” Chen told Jaishankar.

Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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