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regular-article-logo Monday, 17 June 2024

Eastern Ladakh row: Tension over last four years not served either India or China well, says Jaishankar

He also asserted that India remains committed to finding a 'fair and reasonable outcome' but one that is respectful of agreements and recognises the Line of Actual Control

PTI New Delhi Published 12.03.24, 09:38 AM
S Jaishankar

S Jaishankar File

In the backdrop of the nearly-four-year border row with China in eastern Ladakh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said the "tension" seen during this period has "not served either of us well".

He also asserted that India remains committed to finding a "fair and reasonable outcome" but one that is respectful of agreements and recognises the Line of Actual Control.

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During a panel discussion at an event held late on Monday evening, the minister said India "never closed doors to talking to Pakistan" but the terrorism issue should be "fair, square at the centre of the conversation".

Jaishankar, who recently returned from an official visit to South Korea and Japan, shared his thoughts on a range of issues, from the changing nature of diplomacy to the evolving world order, during the 'Express Adda' in New Delhi.

Later, he also took questions from a section of the audience that included diplomats, businessmen, academics, entrepreneurs, journalists and foreign policy enthusiasts.

Asked about his views on "offers made from the Chinese side in the past" to resolve the border issue, and whether there was any scenario where he could think that this could actually be resolved, the minister said, "Any country involved in a boundary dispute negotiating, it has to believe … there has to be a solution."

Questioned on if the current dispensation will get "more empowered with more seats in (Parliament) to talk on the issue", the Union minister interjected and said, "To me, the territory of India and the fairness of a boundary solution has nothing to do with how many seats … Either it's a good deal or not a good deal. The issue today is not whether you have a political majority or not. It is whether you have a fair deal on the table that is the issue." Jaishankar, a former foreign secretary, also responded to a query from an audience member on the India-China relationship.

"I think it is in our common interest that we should not have that many forces on the Line of Actual Control. I think it is in our common interest that we should observe the agreements that we have signed. And, I believe that it is not just in common interest, I believe it is in China's interest as well. This tension that we have seen for the last four years has not served either of us well," he said.

"So, the sooner we resolve it, I genuinely believe it is good for both of us. I am still very much committed to finding a fair, reasonable outcome. But one which is respectful of agreements recognises the Line of Actual Control and doesn't seek to change the status quo. That, I think, will be good for both of us," the minister added.

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

Ties between the two countries nose-dived significantly following the clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

India and China recently held a fresh round of high-level military talks to resolve the border row that witnessed both sides agreeing to maintain "peace and tranquillity" on the ground but there was no indication of any breakthrough.

Jaishankar also took a question on India-Pakistan ties and if New Delhi would be open to a conversation if Islamabad reached out.

"We have never closed our doors on talking with Pakistan. The question is what to talk about ... If some guy has that many terrorist camps ... that should be the central part of the conversation," he said.

When asked if there could be a conversation with the Pakistani military, he said, "It doesn't work that way. It is not that we choose between this and that." "As I said, we have never closed our doors to talking to Pakistan … but the terrorism issue should be fair, square at the centre of the conversation. It is the major issue … I am not saying there are no other issues. But I am not going to duck that issue for the sake of talking," the minister said.

One member of the audience also asked if India's policy towards the US has had any impact on Russia's policy towards China, to which Jaishankar said that was a "correlation I wouldn't agree with".

"If Russia and China have become closer that is not an issue ... that is not a doing of India. That may or may not be a consequence of the situation in which Russia finds itself in vis-a-vis the West ... Our policy towards Russia has been very fair, very objective," he added.

On the Myanmar issue, he said, "Frankly the developments … are worrying".

"If there is no central authority and you have a very fractured system, then all set of other problems happen. It creates a fertile ground for a whole set of illegal activities, which then also impinge on our end...," he added.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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