At 1.30pm on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be face-to-face, though virtually, with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the trilateral Russia, India, China (RIC) foreign ministers meeting led by Moscow. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov will be the third minister in the virtual meeting room.
Russia has ruled out any bilateral issues being taken up during the meeting but left the door open to “support trust building”. Speaking to CNN-News 18, Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin said, “Russia is a trusted partner for both, and our multilateral and bilateral relations with them play a key role in maintaining stability in Eurasia. RIC in this regard is a unique platform that helps to expand common ground, strengthen dialogue and proceeding further towards practical cooperation as well as to build trust in the region.”
On June 17, Jaishankar and Wang had a telephone conversation as tensions escalated between India and China in the aftermath of the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley during a violent face-off on the night of June 15 with the Chinese PLA. Both sides had a different version of what transpired in the call though the Indian read-out mentioned that the violence was precipitated due to the Chinese army seeking to “erect a structure on our side of the LAC”.
With the ongoing border tensions, questions were raised as to whether the RIC meeting would indeed be held in the coming week. But that very evening Russia announced that the RIC meeting would take place on June 23. Subsequently, the next day in response to a query from CNN-News 18, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson confirmed that EAM Jaishankar would in fact participate in the meeting.
The last such meeting was held in February 2019 and attended by the then EAM Sushma Swaraj. The meeting in December 2017 was held in New Delhi. Prime Minister Modi attended an informal meeting of the leaders of RIC in June 2019 where he said, “As the world’s leading economies, exchange of views between us, on economic, political and security situation of the world is important. Our trilateral meeting is a useful medium for discussing and coordinating on major global issues.”