Jaishankar seeks early resolution of LAC issues, Wang Yi says India-China ties recovering
The two leaders held an hour-long meeting on the margins of a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting being hosted in Bali. Both ministers agreed that military and diplomatic officials should maintain regular contacts and looked forward to the next meeting of senior military commanders at an early date.
India on Thursday sought early resolution of all outstanding issues on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with external affairs minister S Jaishankar pressing his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to complete the disengagement of troops to restore peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
The two leaders held an hour-long meeting on the margins of a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting being hosted in Bali by Indonesia, the current president of the grouping of the world’s 20 largest economies.
The dragging military standoff has taken bilateral ties to an all-time low and the two sides have been unable to withdraw frontline troops from all friction points despite numerous rounds of talks.
“Focused on specific outstanding issues in our bilateral relationship pertaining to the border situation. Also spoke about other matters including students and flights,” Jaishankar tweeted. He and Wang also “shared perspectives on the international situation and its impact on the G20 deliberations”.
A statement from the external affairs ministry said Jaishankar called for an “early resolution of all the outstanding issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh”.
Recalling the disengagement of troops in some friction areas, Jaishankar “reiterated the need to sustain the momentum to complete disengagement from all the remaining areas to restore peace and tranquillity in the border areas”, the statement said.
He emphasised the importance of “fully abiding” by bilateral agreements and protocols and understandings between the two ministers during their previous conversations.
Both ministers agreed that military and diplomatic officials of the two sides should maintain regular contacts and looked forward to the next meeting of senior military commanders at an early date.
Jaishankar said the India-China relationship will be “best served by observing the three mutuals – mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests”.
A readout from China’s foreign ministry offered a divergent take on the meeting and made no mention of disengagement at friction points. It quoted Wang as saying that communications and exchanges between the two sides since March had “effectively managed and controlled differences, promoting bilateral relations to a recovery momentum”.
Wang also said the two sides should take practical actions to implement the consensus of their leaders that India and china are “opportunities for each other’s development and will not pose a threat to each other”. This will promote bilateral ties “getting back to normal as early as possible”.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the China-India border area is “generally stable at the moment”, and the two sides have agreed to follow “important common understandings reached by the two leaders and the agreements signed by both sides, and properly resolve issues” related to the LAC in line with the “principle of mutual and equal security”.
Zhao, who was responding to a question on the meeting of the ministers at a regular news briefing, described China and India as “important neighbours” and said the two sides have the will and capability of jointly maintaining peace and tranquillity in border areas.
Jaishankar also recalled his meeting with Wang in New Delhi on March 25 and reviewed the progress in some key issues discussed at that time, including the return of Indian students to China. Jaishankar stressed the need to expedite this process and facilitate the return of students at an early date.
This was the fourth meeting between Jaishankar and Wang since the standoff on the LAC began in April-May 2020. A brutal clash at Galwan Valley in June 2020 resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops – the first fatalities on the LAC in 45 years – and the two sides have currently arrayed about 50,000 troops each in the Ladakh sector.
Jaishankar has repeatedly said the standoff on the LAC was the outcome of China violating agreements and protocols for border management by massing large numbers of troops in Ladakh sector and unilaterally attempting to alter the status quo. He has also said bilateral ties cannot be normalised till peace and tranquillity is restored at the border.
On the other hand, China contends the border issue should be put in its “appropriate place” while the two countries take forward relations in other spheres, such as trade.
After the standoff began, Jaishankar and Wang first met on the margins of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Moscow in September 2020. A joint statement issued at the time had said the two ministers had agreed the situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side, and that they had agreed that border troops of both sides “should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.
Despite numerous rounds of diplomatic and military talks, the two sides only agreed to pull back frontline troops from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake and at Gogra. They are yet to make headway on several other friction points such as Hot Spring and Depsang.
Wang and Jaishankar subsequently met on the margins of a SCO heads of states’ meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in September 2021. They also held talks when Wang visited India on March 25.
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