Necessary to disengage at all friction points, Jaishankar to Wang in 75-min call
External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi over the phone to discuss the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and also issues related to overall ties between India and China, the ministry of external affairs said on Wednesday. The MEA statement said that foreign minister Jaishankar highlighted that India and China had "always agreed that maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas was essential basis for development of bilateral relations".
"A prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side. It was, therefore, necessary that the two sides should work towards early resolution of remaining issues. It was necessary to disengage at all friction points in order to contemplate de-escalation of forces in this sector. That alone will lead to the restoration of peace and tranquility and provide conditions for progress of our bilateral relationship," it said.
"EAM referred to the meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister in September 2020 in Moscow where Indian side had expressed its concern on provocative behavior and unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter status quo. He noted that the bilateral relations have been impacted severely over last year. EAM said that Boundary Question may take time to resolve but disturbance of peace and tranquility including by violence, will inevitably have a damaging impact on the relationship," MEA said in a statement.
The 75-minute call between Jaishankar and Wang came after India and China pulled back frontline troops from strategic heights around Pangong Lake along with armoured vehicles and artillery and also after meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) event in Moscow on September 10 last year. Jaishankar had in a tweet mentioned that had "discussed the implementation of our Moscow Agreement and reviewed the status of disengagement" with Wang.
The MEA statement also mentioned the meeting between Jaishankar and Wang in Moscow last year. "Both Ministers had agreed that the situation in the border areas was not in the interest of either side and decided that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage and ease tensions. EAM noted that the two sides had maintained continuous communication since then through both the diplomatic and military channels. This had led to progress as both sides had successfully disengaged in the Pangong Tso Lake area earlier this month," it said.
The “Moscow Agreement” was a five-point agreement that the two sides had concluded during the meeting of the foreign ministers in the Russian capital. A joint statement issued after that meeting had said the two sides would be guided by the consensus of the leaders of India and China, including not allowing differences to become disputes.
Jaishankar, the statement, said emphasised that India and China should now quickly resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. "EAM said that once disengagement is completed at all friction points, then the two sides could also look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards restoration of peace and tranquility," it added.
The two sides had on February 20 held the 10th round of talks between senior military commanders within 48 hours of the completion of the disengagement at Pangong Lake. At the meeting held on the Chinese side of the LAC, the military commanders had focused on disengagement at other friction points such as Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang Plains though there were no immediate signs of a breakthrough.
The statement said that Wang, on his part, expressed satisfaction at the progress made so far. "It was an important step forward for restoration of peace and tranquility in border areas. He felt that both sides should make efforts to consolidate outcomes. It was also necessary to sincerely implement the common understanding reached at various levels. He spoke about the need to improve management and control in the border areas," it said.
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Wang, the statement said, noted that the Indian side had proposed ‘three mutuals’ (mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests) as the approach to the relationship and also agreed on the importance of taking "the long view of our ties". The two ministers agreed to remain in touch and establish a hotline, it added.
The Chinese foreign ministry also released a statement on the phone conversation early on Friday and said that Wang had said the border dispute between India and China is a reality and should be taken seriously but should also be placed at an appropriate position in bilateral ties. The statement also added that the two sides have agreed to set up a hotline for better communication in a timely manner.
Both sides must cherish the current hard-won situation, jointly consolidate the existing results, maintain the momentum of consultation and further ease the situation, Wang told Jaishankar, according to the Chinese foreign ministry's statement.