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Sushma Swaraj embarks on two-nation visit to China, Mongolia


NEW DELHI, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left here on Saturday on a two-nation visit to China and Mongolia till April 26. In China, she will take part in a ministerial-level meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) of which India had become a full member last year after remaining an ``observer’’ since 2005. Pakistan was also granted full membership of the grouping in 2017. Ms. Swaraj is likely to have a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi along the sidelines of the SCO. Her visit comes within days of the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s meeting in Beijing with the Foreign Affairs Commission Director of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Yang Jiechi. The NSA had visited China from April 12-13 and it was a part of regular high level engagement between the two neighbours, according to the External Affairs Ministry. The two high-level visits are being seen as part of a renewed bid by the two countries to ease tensions arising out of the last year’s prolonged stand-off at Doklam. As part of her engagement at the SCO foreign ministers meeting, she will take part in it on April 24, official sources said. Her meeting on the sidelines of the summit with her Chinese counterpart may take place on Sunday, her first meeting after Mr. Wang’s elevation. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will also participate in the SCO defence ministers meeting on April 24. The two top ministers from India will be in China at the same time, indicating New Delhi’s resolve of resetting the ties with Beijing. After her China visit, she will travel to Magnolia for her visit to the land-locked country on April 25 and 26. The last visit to Mongolia of India’s External Affairs Minister had taken place 42 years ago. The SCO ministerial meetings are a precursor to the summit of the eight-member organization that is scheduled to take place in June in the Chinese city of Qingdao. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to take part in it. Besides China and Russia, SCO’s other members include, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

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