India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said nine rounds of military commander-level talks have been held with China over the disengagement process in eastern Ladakh, but there was no “visible expression” of the talks on ground.
Calling the Ladakh issue “very complicated”, he said that the parleys will continue in future also. Speaking to reporters in Vijayawada, he also talked about requests India has received for exporting COVID-19 vaccines to other countries.
On being asked whether any ministerial-level talks will be held between India and China on skirmishes between the troops of the two countries, he said, “The disengagement talks are being conducted by military commanders as it’s a very complicated issue and it depends on troops, you have to know the geography (like) which position and what is happening.”
China and India are locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh since May 5 last. The two Asian neighbours have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks to resolve the face-off, but no significant headway has been made so far.
“So, military commanders have held nine rounds of meetings so far. We believe that some progress has been made, however, it is not, in a kind of situation where there is a visible expression of that on the ground,” said the external affairs minister.
Jaishankar said he and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held parleys with their counterparts of China last year in Moscow and agreed that they should disengage in some parts. “Right now the military commanders are talking and they will continue to talk,” he added.
On the recent Budget, he said there’s been a significant additional outlay for Defence, both in the financial year as well as capital expenditure. He said there is an 18% increase in the capital expenditure which, according to him, is the highest during the past 15 years.
’25 countries waiting for India-made vaccines’
Speaking about the export of COVID-19 vaccines, he said India has so far supplied vaccines to 15 countries and 25 other nations are in the queue at different levels for the jab. He said three categories of countries are keen to get the vaccine from India – poor, price-sensitive nations, and others that directly deal with pharmaceutical companies making the antidote.
“I think right now we have already supplied to about 15 countries (as per my recollection), I would say there would be another about 25 countries which are at different stages in the pipeline. But what it has done is today it has put India on the map of the world,” he said.
The minister said some poor countries are being supplied the vaccine on a grant basis while some nations wanted it on par with the price that the Indian government pays to the vaccine makers. Some countries have direct contracts with the Indian vaccine producing companies and have negotiated commercially, he said.
Indian regulators have approved two vaccines — Covaxin of Bharat Biotech and Covishield of Oxford, being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India in Pune, which are being administered to frontline workers from January 16, for restricted emergency use.
Jaishankar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea was to establish the country as the “Pharmacy of the World”, taking advantage of the domestic capabilities and the way India emerged as IT leader during the Y2K issue.
(With inputs from agencies)