A day after Indian and Chinese troops completed the disengagement process at Patrolling Point-15 in the Gogra-Hot Springs region of eastern Ladakh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday confirmed that the process has been completed and said it is “one problem less on the border”.
These were the first comments from the government after the disengagement process was completed at one of the last friction points on India-China border.
Responding to questions at an interaction after a bilateral meeting with visiting Foreign minister of France, Catherine Colonna, Jaishankar said, “I don’t think I am saying anything new today, except I would recognise that we had disengagement at PP-15…the disengagement, as I understand, is completed, and that is one problem less on the border.”
On China’s aggressive behaviour on the Indo-Pacific and along the border with India, Colonna said, “We have spoken a lot about the general situation in the Indo-Pacific and the many challenges…that have emerged because of China. We have basically the same analysis…we also share the same concerns because we know…the role that the Chinese are playing, and we want to make sure that there is no imbalance in the Indo-Pacific…. Nor are we looking for any imbalance of powers elsewhere in the world.”
Jaishankar said, “On the Indo-Pacific, it’s important for like-minded countries to work together to contribute to ensuring peace, stability, security, prosperity, and progress. We consider France very much an Indo-Pacific player and also a country which has a long standing presence in the Indian Ocean.”
Colonna raised the issue of Ukraine prominently in her statements during the interaction. She said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a matter of concern. And this is something that concerns the entire world, all governments of the world, not just Ukraine…. We all believe in these core principles of peaceful coexistence of respecting each other. When these core principles are violated or attacked…let’s not forget everyone is looking at us.
“Whatever is happening in Ukraine…it’s not just something that only concerns Ukraine or just the European continent. This is a very serious issue for the entire global community.”
On Ukraine, Jaishankar said, “What is important is that there should be a return to dialogue and diplomacy… Among the major countries of the world, two leaders who have been regularly engaging both sides in the conflict are Prime Minister Modi and (France’s) President (Emmanuel) Macron.”
Later in the day, Colonna met Modi and discussed bilateral and other issues of mutual interest. She conveyed Macron’s “message of friendship and cooperation to the Prime Minister.”
“PM Modi fondly recalled his recent meetings with President Macron in Paris and Schloss Elmau, Germany, and conveyed his desire to welcome the President in India at an early opportunity,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox
In a statement, the French embassy said that the talks between Jaishankar and Colonna covered deepening and expansion of strategic partnership in all fields. The two discussed joint efforts for a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific, where both countries are resident powers, the embassy stated.
“They also discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and common efforts to respond to its global economic consequences, especially on food security,” it said.