Peace in border areas essential for bilateral ties with China: Shringla

As an immediate neighbour of Afghanistan, India is also concerned following the Taliban takeover of the country and its implications for the region, Shringla said while addressing JP Morgan’s India Investor Summit
Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla. (File photo)
Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla. (File photo)
Updated on Sep 20, 2021 03:36 PM IST
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India has told China that peace in the border areas is essential for developing bilateral ties in the wake of Chinese attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) over the past year, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said on Monday.

As an immediate neighbour of Afghanistan, India is also concerned following the Taliban takeover of the country and its implications for the region, Shringla said while addressing JP Morgan’s India Investor Summit.

Shringla, who was speaking on the theme “India’s foreign policy and its strategic imperative: The way forward”, listed “megatrends” the country is contending with, including a rebalancing in which global activity is moving towards Asia, the rise of China, the pressure on international systems, the vulnerability of global supply and value chains, emerging technologies, and “a battle between schools of thought”.

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He described the standoff with China and the situation in Afghanistan among the geopolitical challenges in India’s immediate neighbourhood. These situations were a reminder that traditional security challenges remain even while new realities are making themselves felt.

“Chinese attempts over the last year to unilaterally alter the status quo in Ladakh have seriously disturbed peace and tranquillity in the border areas. These acts are in violation of our bilateral agreements and have inevitably impacted other aspects of the bilateral relationship,” Shringla said.

“We have made it clear to the Chinese side that peace and tranquillity in border areas is essential for development of our relationship. Development of India-China relationship can only be based on ‘three mutuals’ – mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests,” he said.

Shringla also reiterated India’s stated position that the largely positive trajectory of India-China ties in the past 40 years was largely due to the agreement between the two sides to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

India has insisted that the overall normalisation of relations with China is linked to disengagement and de-escalation at friction points on the LAC. On the other hand, Beijing has said New Delhi should take forward relations in other areas while dealing with the border standoff separately.

Shringla said India is “naturally concerned about the recent changes within Afghanistan and their implications” for the region. While the immediate focus has been on evacuating Indian nationals from Afghanistan, he noted the recent UN Security Council resolution 2593 demands that Afghan soil should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terror acts and also specifically refers to terrorists proscribed by the Security Council, including those from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Most Indians were able to leave Kabul in August, and a number of Afghans, including minorities, who wanted to travel to India, have also been able to do so. “However, this process could not be completed due to the security situation at the airport. Resumption of flights from Kabul airport is, therefore, a priority,” he added.

India is also monitoring developments related to the humanitarian needs of Afghanistan. “In UNDP’s assessment, there is an imminent threat of poverty levels rising in Afghanistan. There is also a threat of an imminent drought and a food security crisis. It is important for the humanitarian assistance providers to be given unrestricted and direct access to Afghanistan,” Shringla said.

The distribution of humanitarian assistance has to be done in a non-discriminatory manner to all sections of Afghan society, and India’s approach to Afghanistan is guided by the civilisational relationship with the Afghan people, he said.

Shringla also recalled India’s development aid worth $3 billion and more than 500 projects spread across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, and said these initiatives had earned the country tremendous goodwill.

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Monday, November 29, 2021