At a time when India and China are locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh, New Delhi is considering sending External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to Russia next month, around September 9-11, where he will have a chance to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discuss steps to resolve the border crisis, The Indian Express has learnt.
Should this work out, it will be their first in-person meeting though Jaishankar and Wang met at the meeting of the RIC Foreign Ministers via videoconference on June 23 — after the June 15 incident in Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed in clashes with Chinese troops. They also spoke over phone on June 17, two days after the clashes.
Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters Thursday that Jaishankar “has received an invitation” to participate in a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Moscow next month. “As soon as we have our decision on his participation, we will inform you,” he said.
Ahead of this SCO meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will chair a large-format meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers via videoconference on September 4. They will exchange views on topical international matters. Jaishankar and Wang, sources said, will attend this as well.
Hectic diplomatic activity between New Delhi and Beijing is again gaining pace through Russian interlocutors. Indian ambassador to Russia D B Venkatesh Varma has been constantly in touch with Russian officials.
Early this week, the Indian envoy had a conversation with Igor Morgulov, Deputy Minister in the Russian Foreign Ministry. Officials said topics of “cooperation in multilateral associations and upcoming bilateral contacts at various levels were discussed”.
On the LAC standoff, the MEA spokesperson recalled Jaishankar’s statement that in the past border incidents, “all border situations were resolved through diplomacy”.
Jaishankar, he said, had noted that “when it comes to finding a solution, this must be predicated on honouring all agreements and understandings. And not attempting to alter the status quo unilaterally”.
Srivastava said, “complete disengagement requires re-deployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC”.
“It is natural that this can be done only through mutually agreed reciprocal actions. Thus it is important to bear in mind that achieving this requires agreed actions by both sides,” he said.