But Jaishankar-Wang’s joint statement doesn’t mention the restoration of status quo on LAC as it existed in April or set timeframe for complete disengagement
India and China have formulated a five-point plan for speedy de-escalation and disengagement from the friction points at the tense Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
The broad outline to diffuse the tension at the LAC was arrived at the meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet.
But in the statements issued by both the countries, there was no mention of the restoration of the status quo on the LAC as it existed in April or set any timeframe for completing the disengagement and de-escalation.
Jaishankar expressed concern over amassing of the Chinese troops at the border while his counterpart Wang Yi claimed the Indian troops opened fire thereby worsening the situation at the border.
The meeting between Jaishankar and Wang Yi lasted more than two hours. This was the first direct meeting between them since the stand-offs began in early May on the LAC. They had talked to each other on the phone two days after the bloody brawl in the Galwan valley on June 15 leaving 20 India Army personnel, including the commanding officer dead.
Incidentally, this was the second political-level parleys at the ministerial level to break the four month long logjam.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held detailed discussions on the issue last week with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Moscow. However, things did not improve on the ground with the Chinese on September seven opening fire at the LAC for the first time in the last 45 years.
Though no breakthrough was expected in the latest round of talks between the two Foreign Ministers, the two sides exchanged views on the current hostilities at the LAC. The joint statement issued later said 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.
Secondly, the two Foreign Ministers 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 third part of the plan saw the two Ministers agreeing that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace, tranquility in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
Fourthly, the two sides also 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.
Lastly, the Ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude new Confidence Building Measures to maintain and enhance peace and tranquility in the border areas.
The consensus came days after a fresh confrontation between the Armies of the two countries on Monday in eastern Ladakh. It triggered a massive military build-up by both sides in almost all friction points along the LAC.
Sources said the five-point agreement will guide the approach of the two countries in tackling the current border situation. The five-point agreement has not mentioned any timeline for disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquility.
The Indian delegation highlighted its strong concern over amassing of troops and military equipment by China along the LAC besides referring to “provocative behaviour” by Chinese Army personnel at numerous incidents of friction, Government sources said.
They said the Chinese side could not provide a credible explanation for the troops buildup.
The Indian side insisted that the immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas and that it is necessary to prevent any untoward incident in the future, the sources said.
A Press release issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing quoted Wang as having told Jaishankar that it is normal for both the countries to have differences but it is important to put them in proper context and take the guidance of the leaders.
“Wang noted that it is normal for China and India to have differences as two neighbouring major countries. What is important is to put these differences in a proper context vis-a-vis bilateral relations,” the release said.
Wang stressed that as two large developing countries are emerging rapidly, what China and India need right now is cooperation, not confrontation; and mutual trust, not suspicion, the release added.
“Whenever the situation gets difficult, it is all the more important to ensure the stability of the overall relationship and preserve mutual trust”, Wang said.
“China-India relations have once again come to a crossroads. But as long as the two sides keep moving the relationship in the right direction, there will be no difficulty or challenge that can’t be overcome,” Wang added.
Government sources here said the Indian side clearly conveyed during the talks that it expected full adherence to all agreements on 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 also conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that the recent incidents in eastern Ladakh inevitably impacted the development of the bilateral relationship. Therefore, the Indian leader told Wang that an urgent resolution of the current situation was in the interest of both the nations, sources said.
Saturday, 12 September 2020 | Rahul Datta | New Delhi
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