External affairs minister S. Jaishankar has described the situation with China as an “intense challenge”. He did not elaborate but the phrase appeared a step up from his usual description of bilateral relations as “not normal”.
Addressing the Indian diaspora in Vienna on Sunday and referring to India on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s watch, Jaishankar said: “During this period, there have been very profound changes in our national security.”
Jaishankar added: “A lot of that is, of course, centred around a more intense challenge that we face on our northern borders with China.”
About the rest of India’s adjoining neighbourhood, he said the eastern and northeastern borders had “dramatically improved” in the past decade primarily because of an improvement in relations with Bangladesh, adding that this was an example of successful diplomacy.
On Ukraine, the minister expressed deep concern over the situation at two separate engagements over the past two days, underscoring India’s position that differences cannot be settled through violence and war.
Acknowledging that the situation cannot be easily resolved, he said it was important that countries that believe that the only solution is through negotiations speak up and persevere in this direction.
On Monday, at a joint media conference with his Austrian counterpart, Jaishankar said: “With regard to the Ukraine conflict, let me underline that India remains deeply concerned. We sincerely believe that this is not the era of war. Differences must be settled on the negotiating table. It is imperative that there is a return to dialogue and diplomacy. Prolonged conflict will not serve the interests of any party.
“My Prime Minister has been in contact with the leaders of both nations, pressing our point of view in that regard. We are also increasingly anxious about the knock-on effects of the conflict in terms of accessibility and affordability of fuel, food and fertilisers. This is a growing concern for the global south.”