Jaishankar on border row with China: Need to take disengagement process forward

The External Affairs Minister said he held a frank discussion on the issue with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang on the sidelines of the SCO summit

Jaishankar with Qin. Photo: Twitter

External Affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday (May 5) said disengagement at the border is a must for India to normalise relations with China.

His comments at a press conference came a day after his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang. Stressing that there was an “abnormal position in border areas,” Jaishankar said he had a “frank discussion” on the issue with Qin on the same at the meeting.

“We have to take the disengagement process forward,” he added.

Also read: Jaishankar-Qin meet: India calls for resolving outstanding border issues

Both the foreign minister held talks on Thursday (May 4) on the sidelines of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This is the second such meeting in the last two months.

The Chinese foreign minister visited India in March to attend a meeting of the G20 foreign ministers.

During the talks, Jaishankar 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.

Also read: SCO meet: No handshake; Jaishankar greets Bhutto-Zardari, China’s Qin with namaste

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

Military-level talks

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.

Relations between the two neighbours deteriorated after the fierce clash in Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

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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.

(With inputs from agencies)