India and China on Wednesday agreed to hold another round of talks between their senior military commanders at the earliest to resolve 14 month long tensions along their common borders with Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar pointing out that a prolongation of the strains was having a negative impact on ties.
Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Dushanbe on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers’ meet. Wednesday’s in person meet came 10 months after their first round of talks in Moscow on 10 September 2020. The ministers have been in touch by phone in the interim.
“Concluded a one-hour bilateral meeting with State Councilor and FM Wang Yi of China on the sidelines of Dushanbe SCO Foreign Ministers Meeting. Discussions focused on the outstanding issues along the LAC in the Western Sector,” Jaishankar said in a Twitter post after the talks.
According to an Indian readout of the talks, Jaishankar and Wang had “a detailed exchange of views on the current situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and also on other issues related to the overall India-China relations.”
India-China ties nosedived after New Delhi discovered intrusions into its territory by Chinese troops in May 2020. Tensions spiraled further after 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed on 15 June 2020 at Galwan in eastern Ladakh. Both sides have amassed tens of thousands of troops along their common border backed by fighter aircraft and missile batteries.
Recalling his meeting with Wang in Moscow, Jaishankar “emphasized the need to follow through on the agreement reached then and complete the disengagement, resolving the remaining issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh at the earliest,” the Indian statement said.
Jaishankar “pointed out to State Councillor (Wang) that the successful disengagement in the Pangong Lake Area earlier this year had created conditions for resolving the remaining issues,” the statement said. This was a reference to the two countries pulling back troops, tanks and other weaponry from the banks of the Pangong Tso lake, one of the many friction points in Ladakh in February this year.
“It was expected that the Chinese side would work with us towards this objective. EAM (External Affairs Minister) noted however that the situation in remaining areas is still unresolved,” the Indian statement said referring to tensions in at least three other areas along the LAC in Ladakh.
The prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side, Jaishankar pointed out adding that the development was “visibly impacting the relationship in a negative manner,” it said.
“The attempts to change status quo (along the LAC) last year that also disregarded commitments under the 1993 and 1996 agreements have inevitably affected ties,” Jaishankar conveyed to the Chinese minister.
“He (the Indian minister) emphasized that it was, therefore, in mutual interest that the two sides work towards early resolution of the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh, while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols,” the statement said.
The two ministers noted the agreement reached after talks at the diplomatic level that senior military commanders of the two countries should meet.
“They agreed that this should be convened at the earliest. They also agreed that in this meeting, the two sides should discuss all the remaining issues and seek a mutually acceptable solution. There was also an understanding that both sides will continue to ensure stability on the ground and neither side will take any unilateral action that could increase tension,” the Indian statement added.
A readout from the Chinese foreign ministry on the talks was not immediately available.
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