Border talks with China have no link with issues such as 2+2 dialogue: India
India on Thursday said its ongoing dialogue with China to resolve the border standoff in Ladakh has “no connection” with extraneous issues such as the recent 2+2 ministerial dialogue with the US.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava offered the clarification against the backdrop of reports that China is dragging its feet on finalising a date for the next round of talks of senior military commanders of the two sides as it was irked by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s stinging criticism of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) actions across the region.
“As regards the next round of talks, we will let you know when we have further information to share. Let me make it clear that there is no connection between this and any extraneous issue,” Srivastava said when he was asked about the matter at the weekly news briefing.
Following the 2+2 talks between the foreign and defence ministers of India and the US on Tuesday, Pompeo told the media that Washington will stand by New Delhi in confronting threats to India’s sovereignty. He also described the CCP as “no friend to democracy [and] the rule of law”.
China reacted sharply to Pompeo’s remarks on Wednesday, saying the Sino-India boundary dispute is a bilateral matter. Beijing also said Pompeo’s comments had “instigated China’s relations with other countries in the region”.
Srivastava said external affairs minister S Jaishankar had made it clear that the Indo-Pacific region was a “particular focus” of the 2+2 talks, and India had reiterated the importance of peace, stability and prosperity for all countries in this region.
“This is possible only by upholding the rules-based international order, ensuring the freedom of navigation in the international seas, promoting open connectivity and respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” he added.
The disengagement and de-escalation process in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) remains stalled despite several rounds of diplomatic and military talks between India and China. The tens of thousands of troops mobilised by the two sides since the standoff began in May are now preparing to remain deployed along the LAC through the harsh winter.
Srivastava said the last meeting between the senior military commanders on October 12 had “enabled in-depth discussions between the two sides, resulting in enhanced understanding of each other’s positions”.
“The two sides had agreed to maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible. They had also agreed to implement the understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries, not to turn differences into disputes, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” he said.
In line with these decisions, India has maintained communications with the Chinese side to “arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to the situation along the LAC in eastern Ladakh and restore full peace and tranquillity,” he said.