Indian, Chinese officials to meet again soon to discuss remaining issues of LAC standoff
India and China have agreed that their military and diplomatic officials should meet again for discussions on speedily resolving remaining issues related to the standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the external affairs ministry said on Friday after a meeting of foreign ministers of the two countries.
A readout issued by China’s foreign ministry after the meeting between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Dushanbe was silent on further meetings and only spoke of consolidating the “disengagement results of the frontline troops”.
Jaishankar said in a set of tweets he had discussed disengagement in the border areas with Wang, and “underlined that progress in this regard is essential for restoration of peace and tranquillity, which is the basis for development of bilateral ties”.
This was the first meeting between the two ministers since July 14, when they had held talks on the sidelines of a meeting of SCO foreign ministers in Dushanbe. After several rounds of military and diplomatic talks, India and China withdrew frontline troops and armoured units from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake in February. In August, the two sides ended forward deployments at Gogra and dismantled all temporary structures in this area.
India has linked disengagement at other friction points on the LAC, including Hot Spring and Depsang, to the overall normalisation of bilateral relations. China, however, has said the LAC standoff should be delinked from other aspects of relations between the two sides.
The external affairs ministry’s statement issued on Friday quoted Jaishankar as saying it “was necessary to ensure progress in resolution of remaining issues so as to restore peace and tranquillity along the LAC”. It added, “In this regard, the ministers agreed that military and diplomatic officials of the two sides should meet again and continue their discussions to resolve the remaining issues at the earliest.”
Jaishankar also recalled Wang had said at their last meeting on July 14 that India-China relations “were at low ebb”, and that both sides had agreed a “prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of the either side as it was impacting the relationship in a negative manner”.
The Chinese foreign ministry’s readout quoted Wang as saying that China has “always been positive” to seek a solution to the standoff and that the “overall situation in the border area was gradually de-escalated” because of recent communication between diplomatic and military officials.
Wang hoped that “India will meet China halfway to move the situation towards stability and shift it from urgent dispute settlement to regular management and control”. The readout added that both sides “need to consolidate the disengagement results of the frontline troops, and strictly abide by the protocols and agreements and the consensus reached between the two countries” to safeguard peace and tranquillity and prevent “recurrence of border-related issues”.
Wang also said China and India must continue to be “opportunities of development to each other rather than threats” and push cooperation onto a “healthy and stable track”.
The external affairs ministry said the two ministers also exchanged views on recent global developments, and Jaishankar said India “had never subscribed to any clash of civilisations theory”. He said India and China “had to deal with each other on merits and establish a relationship based on mutual respect”.
The statement added, “For this, it was necessary that China avoid viewing our bilateral relations from the perspective of its relations with third countries. Asian solidarity would depend on the example set by India-China relations.”
Though the statement didn’t give details, Jaishankar’s remarks were an apparent reference to the situation in Afghanistan, where China has been working closely with its traditional ally Pakistan since the Taliban takeover in Kabul. China has provided aid worth millions of dollars to the Taliban setup and is among the handful of countries that have kept open their embassies in Kabul.