With the crisis in Ladakh deepening, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held direct talks in Moscow for more than two hours Thursday night to try and dial down tensions along the Line of Actual Control. Until midnight, there was no official word on the outcome of the meeting which took place on the sidelines of a gathering of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
Before their bilateral meeting, Jaishankar and Wang attended a 90-minute luncheon meeting hosted by Russian Foreign Minister – the three countries make the RIC (Russia, India China) grouping. A joint statement after the RIC meeting said the ministers exchanged views on further strengthening of Russia-India-China trilateral cooperation as well as “topical issues of international and regional importance, in the spirit of mutual understanding, friendship and trust”.
It said the ministers noted that “common development and cooperation of the three countries is conducive to promoting global growth, peace and stability”. Recalling their June 23 video-conference on the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II and the creation of the United Nations, the ministers reiterated their “support for inclusive multilateralism” and “respect for universally recognized principles of international law”.
After the RIC meeting, and before heading for the bilateral meeting with Wang, Jaishankar, in a Twitter post, said “Attended the RIC Foreign Ministers Meeting hosted by FM Lavrov in Moscow. Thank him for his warm hospitality. India takes on the Chair of the RIC process.”
Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said “both India and China are in regular touch through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the situation… and this was also the consensus when the two Defence Ministers met.” “EAM (External Affairs Minister) will be meeting the Chinese Foreign Minister shortly, and where he will be discussing this (border) issue.”
“As far as our position goes, Indian side is committed to resolving the current situation on the India-China border through peaceful negotiations,” Srivastava said.
The meeting took place amid a tense situation on the LAC following the first incident of firing in 45 years. New Delhi’s assessment, as of now, is that Beijing is “rattled” after a series of pre-emptive steps Indian troops took along the LAC on the south bank of Pangong Tso since August 29-30.
Last Monday, speaking at the Express e-Adda, Jaishankar had underlined a “number of understandings” with China on border management which go back to 1993.
“…the subsequent agreements we had, they shape the behaviour of troops, and what are the restraints which should be on them. If these are not observed, then it raises very, very important questions. At this moment, I note that this very serious situation has been going on since the beginning of May. This calls for very, very deep conversations between the two sides at a political level,” Jaishankar said.
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