EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER S JAISHANKAR told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday that the continuation of the current situation in eastern Ladakh was having a “negative impact” on bilateral ties, and that there had been no forward movement from the Chinese side since the disengagement in Pangong lake areas in February, which had created conditions for resolving the conflict.
During a one-hour meeting on the sidelines of a 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 overall ties could only develop after the full restoration of peace and tranquillity in eastern Ladakh.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the two foreign ministers agreed to hold the next round of military dialogue as soon as possible and to discuss all outstanding issues and seek a mutually acceptable solution (MEA).
The in-person meeting occurred amid 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 Organization member countries meet in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to discuss regional issues, including the security situation in Afghanistan. (AP)
“The External Affairs Minister recalled that both sides had agreed that extending the current situation was not in either side’s best interests. It was clearly having a negative impact on the relationship,” the MEA said in a statement.
In assessing the overall relationship, Jaishankar stated that the preservation of peace and tranquillity in border areas has been the foundation for the development of ties since 1988.
“Attempts to change the status quo last year, which also ignored commitments under the 1993 and 1996 agreements, inevitably impacted ties,” the MEA said. “He emphasized that it was therefore in mutual interest for the two sides to work together to resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh as soon as possible, while fully adhering to bilateral agreements and protocols.”
This was Jaishankar and Wang’s first meeting since their talks on the sidelines of another SCO conclave in Moscow in September last year.
Both sides reached a five-point agreement in Moscow to settle the border dispute. The pact included measures such as quick troop disengagement, avoiding actions that could escalate tensions, adhering to all border management agreements and protocols, and taking steps to restore peace along the LAC.
“Recalling their last meeting in Moscow in September 2020, the External Affairs Minister emphasized the importance of carrying out the agreement reached then and completing the disengagement, resolving the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh as soon as possible,” the MEA stated.
According to the report, Jaishankar informed Wang that the successful disengagement in the Pangong Lake Area earlier this year had created the conditions for resolving the outstanding issues.
“It was expected that the Chinese side would collaborate with us to achieve this goal. However, the External Affairs Minister stated that the situation in the remaining areas remains unresolved,” according to the MEA.
According to the report, the ministers agreed that the next round of military talks should take place as soon as possible. “They also agreed that during this meeting, the two parties should discuss all outstanding issues and work together to find a mutually acceptable solution. There was also an agreement that both sides would continue to ensure ground stability and that neither side would take any unilateral action that would heighten tensions,” the MEA said.
Jaishankar stated in a series of tweets that the discussions focused on the outstanding issues along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. He stated that the full restoration and maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas was critical to the development of bilateral ties. “It was emphasized that unilateral changes to the status quo are not acceptable. The complete restoration and maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas is critical for the development of our ties,” he tweeted.