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Need to take disengagement process forward: Jaishankar on eastern Ladakh border row

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BENAULIM (GOA): A day after holding talks with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said the situation along the border in eastern Ladakh is “abnormal” and India-China relations cannot be normal if peace and tranquillity in border areas is disturbed.

Jaishankar also said that there is a need to take the disengagement process forward.

The standoff between the India and Chinese troops in certain friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh entered its fourth year.

Jaishankar and Qin held bilateral talks on Thursday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in this beach resort.

“I think issue is that there is abnormal position in border areas along the boundary. We had very frank discussions about it,” Jaishankar said at a press conference when asked about his talks with Qin.

“We have to take the disengagement process forward and we have made it very clear publicly as well. What I say within the room is not different from what I say outside which is that India, China relations are not normal and cannot be normal if the peace and tranquillity in the border areas is disturbed,” he said.

“I have been very clear about it; I have been very consistent about it and I have not changed my position at this meeting either,” Jaishankar said.

Asked about China’s claim that the situation along the border is stable, Jaishankar suggested that it is not so.

The meeting between the two foreign ministers was their second in the last two months. The Chinese foreign minister visited India in March to attend a meeting of the G20 foreign ministers.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Jaishankar held talks with Qin during which he conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that the state of India-China relations is “abnormal” because of the lingering border row in eastern Ladakh.

Last week, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu at a meeting that China’s violation of existing border agreements “eroded” the entire basis of ties between the two countries and that all issues relating to the frontier must be resolved in accordance with the existing pacts.

The meeting on April 27 took place in New Delhi on the sidelines of a conclave of the SCO defence ministers.

Days ahead of the meeting between the two defence ministers, the Indian and Chinese armies held 18th round of talks on ending the border row.

In the Corps Commander talks on April 23, the two sides agreed to stay in close touch and work out a mutually acceptable solution to the remaining issues in eastern Ladakh at the earliest.

However, there was no indication of any clear forward movement in ending the three-year row.

The ties between India and China nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

The Indian and the Chinese troops are locked in a standoff in a few friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh for the last three years though they disengaged in several places following a series of military and diplomatic talks.

India has been maintaining that the relationship between the two countries should be based on “three mutuals” — mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area. (PTI)

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