Four long months since the standoff at the border and multiple levels of diplomatic and military conversations, foreign ministers of India and China met for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) ministerial meeting in Moscow on Thursday.
During this meeting, which lasted for more than two -hours, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar conveyed India’s concern over recent escalation of tension incidents in eastern Ladakh owing to provocative behaviour of Chinese frontline troops to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Jaishankar told his Chinese counterpart that the recent incidents in eastern Ladakh have grossly impacted strengthening of bilateral ties, and said that an urgent resolution of the current border situation was in the interest of both countries.
“In the meeting, the Indian side highlighted its strong concern at the massing of Chinese troops with equipment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The presence of such a large concentration of troops was not in accordance with the 1993 and 1996 Agreements and created flashpoints along the LAC. The Chinese side has not provided a credible explanation for this deployment. The provocative behaviour of Chinese frontline troops at numerous incidents of friction along the LAC also showed disregard for bilateral agreements and protocols,” sources told news agency ANI.
Jaishankar underlined that since the resumption of Ambassadorial level relations in 1976 and holding of boundary talks since 1981, India-China relations have developed on a largely positive trajectory. While there have been incidents from time to time, peace and tranquility have largely prevailed in the border areas. As a result, India-China cooperation also developed in a broad range of domains, giving the relationship a more substantive character.
“While the Indian side recognised that a solution to the boundary question required time and effort, it was also clear that the maintenance of peace and tranquility on the border areas was essential to the forward development of ties. The recent incidents in eastern Ladakh, however, inevitably impacted the development of the bilateral relationship. Therefore, an urgent resolution of the current situation was in the interest of both nations,” Jaishankar told the Chinese.
India spelt out its position loud and clear at the meeting. According to government sources, “The Indian side clearly conveyed that it expected full adherence to all agreements on the management of border areas and would not countenance any attempt to change the status quo unilaterally. It was also emphasised that the Indian troops had scrupulously followed all agreements and protocols pertaining to the management of the border areas.”
Jaishankar outlined that the “immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas. That is necessary to prevent any untoward incident in the future. The final disposition of the troop deployment to their permanent posts and the phasing of the process is to be worked out by the military commanders”.
At the end of their discussions, the Ministers reached an agreement on five points that will guide their approach to the current situation.
According to a joint statement issued by India and China, “The two Ministers agreed that both sides should take guidance from the series of consensus of the leaders on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes. They also agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.”
The two Ministers agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
“They agreed to continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the India-China boundary question. They also agreed in this context that the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC), should also continue its meetings,” according to the joint statement.
(With ANI inputs)
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