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Peace, stability in border areas key for overall improvement in ties with China: India

India on Thursday said it is engaged in talks with China with a focus on a “path” to resolve outstanding issues in eastern Ladakh that entailed disengagement, de-escalation and having some degree of stability in the border areas for overall improvement in the ties.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India has been looking at this “graded” process to restore peace and tranquillity on the border for progress in the bilateral relations.

His comments came when asked at a media briefing about China’s claim of so-called momentum of recovery in the relations and efforts to project that things between the two sides have changed following a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in March.

“Of course, our point has been that if you can resolve the issues, particularly on disengagement, that would help in de-escalation and restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western sector. That would be the right step towards enabling progress in bilateral relations,” he said.

Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a standoff in a number of friction points in eastern Ladakh for over two years. The two sides carried out the disengagement process in several areas in the region as a result of high-level military talks.

The 16th round of military talks on Sunday failed to make any breakthrough in resolving the outstanding issues.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi are set to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Uzbekistan on July 28 and 29.

There is a possibility of a bilateral meeting between the two foreign ministers on the sidelines of the SCO meet.

Bagchi said India is engaged with the Chinese side through diplomatic and military talks to resolve the pending issues from its perspective and to ensure disengagement, de-escalation and having some degree of stability and normalcy in the border areas.

“That would help in improving overall relations. I think that is the path we will remain focused on,” he said.

Following the military talks on Sunday, the two sides, in a joint statement said they agreed to stay in “close contact” and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels to work out a mutually acceptable resolution to the remaining issues “at the earliest”.

“They had a frank and in-depth exchange of views in this regard, in keeping with the guidance provided by the state leaders to work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” it said.

The government refers to the eastern Ladakh region as Western sector.

In his comments, Bagchi also referred to the joint statement saying both sides had a “frank” and in-depth exchange of views.

India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the LAC were key for the overall development of the bilateral ties.

The 16th round of military talks were held 10 days after Jaishankar met Wang in Bali.

At the one-hour meeting on the sidelines of a conclave of foreign ministers of the G20 nations, Jaishankar conveyed to Wang the need for early resolution of all the outstanding issues in eastern Ladakh.

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

Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

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

Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the sensitive sector. PTI MPB ZMN

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