Updated: February 7, 2021 7:45:22 am
Nine months after the start of the military standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said Saturday it had been agreed at minister-level meetings last September that troops should disengage in some areas, but so far there had been “no visible expression” of that on the ground.
Responding to questions from reporters in Vijayawada, Jaishankar said: “You know the events of what happened last year. After that, we have deployed troops in very large numbers to meet the challenge which has come from the massing of Chinese troops out there.”
“Last year, Raksha Mantri Rajnathji had met his counterpart in Moscow. They were there for a meeting. I had also met my counterpart, and between us, we had agreed that we should disengage in some areas.”
“So, the disengagement talks — because it’s a very complicated issue, you know, depends (on) troops, you have to know the geography, which position, what is happening, this is being done by the military commanders in nine rounds of meetings so far. So, we believe some progress has been made, but it’s not yet in a kind of situation where there is a visible expression of that on the ground,” he said.
In Vijayawada to speak on the Union Budget, the minister said: “But I also do want to tell you because we are talking Budget… if you look during this period, there has been a very significant additional outlay on the different side, both in the current financial year, as well as under capital expenditure for defence. I think there’s almost an 18% increase in the capital expenditure, which is the highest increase in defence capital expenditure for 15 years. So, there will be a bigger budget for defence, but the correct answer to your question is right now the military commanders are talking and the military commanders will continue to talk.”
His comments come days after he said that the developments in eastern Ladakh have “profoundly disturbed” the India-China relationship because they not only signalled a “disregard” for commitments about minimising troop levels, but also “showed a willingness to breach peace and tranquillity”.
“Significantly, to date, we have yet to receive a credible explanation for the change in China’s stance or reasons for massing of troops in the border areas. It is a different matter that our own forces have responded appropriately and held their own in very challenging circumstances,” Jaishankar said on January 28, delivering the keynote address at the 13th All India Conference of China Studies.
He had outlined eight broad principles and three “mutuals” to mend ties between India and China, currently under “exceptional stress”.
The eight principles he listed included strict adherence to all agreements on border management, fully respecting the LAC, making peace and tranquillity along the frontier the basis for overall ties, recognising that a multi-polar Asia is an essential constituent of a multipolar world and managing differences effectively, that sensitivity to interests, concerns and priorities cannot be one-sided and should be reciprocal.
He said the three “mutuals” were mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests.
The Ministry of External Affairs told Parliament this week that from April-May 2020, there had been enhanced deployment of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas and along the LAC in the Western Sector. Since mid-May, the Chinese attempted to transgress the LAC in several areas of the Western Sector. To address issues arising from such attempts, the two sides have been engaged in discussions through established military and diplomatic channels.
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