External affairs Salman Khurshid spoke to HT about the recent India-China stand-off and the related developments. Excerpts:
Was your visit to Beijing incumbent on the resolution of the border standoff in the western sector?
It (the border issue) is a dialogue
that is on a separate track in our relationship with China, and my visit is part of another track…Obviously, at some point there could have been greater exchange of information. I think both sides approached the dialogue with sincerity and a sense of purpose.
If I understood correctly, these are two different tracks?
My trip (to Beijing) was fixed long back. So, how can you say that my trip had something to do with what happened three weeks ago? We had some idea when our leadership would meet. That’s why I was saying these are different tracks.
Were the negotiations to end the boundary stand-off complicated?
When you are in consultations, you put together issues. Some issues will be isolated for later. The dialogue in these matters is often complicated. There are three levels of mechanism. We should not worry unless all those levels are exhausted.
So, was the disengagement by the two armies simultaneous?
We are saying status quo ante. There was a position on April 15. We wanted that status ante to be preserved. It was basically status quo ante to April 15.
You have mechanisms like the agreement in 1993. But do you think you need to look at new mechanisms to deal with boundary issues?
All mechanisms came out from the dialogue…It is difficult to predict whether we need new mechanisms now.
Last protocol in 2005 and now we are in 2013. Incidents of boundary stand-offs do continue?
I don’t think you should be worried about them. I don’t think that there are many alternatives people are giving us. Somebody said we should send the army to throw them out. We have relations that have many tracks — trade, consular track, people-to-people track, high-level political leadership track. Each one has a mandate and a direction. Each keeps in mind what others are doing.