EXTERNAL AFFAIRS Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday firmly conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the prolongation of the existing situation in eastern Ladakh was visibly impacting the bilateral ties in a “negative manner” and said that there was no forward movement from the Chinese side since the disengagement in Pangong lake areas in February that had created conditions for resolving the remaining issues.
During a one-hour meeting on the sidelines of an SCO conclave in Dushanbe, Jaishankar also told Wang that any unilateral change in the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was “not acceptable” to India and that the overall ties can only develop after full restoration of peace and tranquility in eastern Ladakh.
The two foreign ministers agreed to hold the next round of military dialogue at the earliest and that it should discuss all the remaining issues and seek a mutually acceptable solution, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The in-person meeting took place in the midst of a stalemate in the disengagement process between the two militaries in remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh after they withdrew troops and weapons from the Pangong lake areas in February following a series of military and diplomatic talks to resolve the standoff.
Foreign ministers from Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states hold a series of meetings in the Tajik capital Dushanbe to discuss regional issues, including the security situation in Afghanistan. (AP)
“The External Affairs Minister recalled that both sides had agreed that a prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side. It was visibly impacting the relationship in a negative manner,” the MEA said in a statement.
Assessing the overall relationship, Jaishankar emphasised that maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas has been the foundation for the development of ties since 1988.
“The attempts to change the status quo last year that also disregarded commitments under the 1993 and 1996 agreements have inevitably affected ties,” the MEA said. “He emphasised 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.”
This was the first meeting between Jaishankar and Wang after their talks in Moscow on the sidelines of another SCO conclave in September last year.
In the Moscow talks, both sides reached a five-point agreement to resolve the border row. The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.
“Recalling their last meeting in Moscow, in September 2020, the External Affairs Minister emphasised 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 MEA said.
It said Jaishankar pointed out to Wang that the successful disengagement in the Pangong Lake Area earlier this year had created conditions for resolving the remaining issues.
“It was expected that the Chinese side would work with us towards this objective. The External Affairs Minister noted, however, that the situation in remaining areas is still unresolved,” the MEA said.
It said the ministers agreed that the next round of military talks 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 MEA said.
In a series of tweets, Jaishankar said the discussions focused on the outstanding issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. He said full restoration and maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas was essential for the development of the bilateral ties. “Highlighted that unilateral change of status quo is not acceptable. Full restoration and maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas is essential for development of our ties,” he tweeted.
Source: The Indian Express