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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Amid Covid, LAC standoff, PM meets, briefs President

“Although there were regular meetings between the executive leadership, no such meeting took place due to social distancing protocols in the wake of Covid-19 in the last three months,” the official said

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Published: July 6, 2020 12:48:57 am

Against the backdrop of border tensions, economic crisis and the Covid-19 situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called on President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan and briefed him on “issues of national and international importance”.

This was Prime Minister Modi’s first briefing to the President since the lockdown began in March. The visit to the Rashtrapati Bhavan assumes more significance as it came two days after his unannounced visit to Ladakh where he said in his address to soldiers that “the era of expansionism is over” and “history is witness that such forces have been wiped out, or have been forced to turn around”.

After the visit, President Kovind’s handle tweeted: “Prime Minister @narendramodi called on President Kovind and briefed him on the issues of national and international importance at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.”

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“There have been a number of developments in the last few weeks – the border issues, including the tension with China, the coronavirus pandemic, its effect on the economy. All these issues may have come up. But the meeting is one-to-one between the President and the Prime Minister,” said a source familiar with the development.

The standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies in eastern Ladakh has entered into the ninth week and the talks between the two foreign ministers, three rounds of Corps Commander-level talks and other discussions at the diplomatic and military levels have failed to break the impasse so far. The Army is now preparing for the long haul and is expected to decide within the next six weeks on the number of troops that can be supported logistically in the remote area during the winter.

After an 11-hour -long meeting between XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military Region Commander Major General Liu Lin at the Chushul border point on ways to reduce tensions along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Army sources have indicated that more meetings and talks will be needed, both at the military and diplomatic levels, to break the impasse.

“Although there were regular meetings between the executive leadership, no such meeting took place due to social distancing protocols in the wake of Covid-19 in the last three months,” the official said. Prime Minister Modi visited Rashtrapati Bhavan in April last week for the swearing-in function of Sanjay Kothari as Chief Vigilance Commissioner. “But it was a formal function and there was no official conversation,” the source added.

 

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