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India, China foreign ministers talk for 2 hours in bid to ease LAC crisis

NEW DELHI: India and China held discussions aimed at seeking a resolution to the prolonged military crisis along the LAC in east Ladakh, with foreign minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, meeting in Moscow for over two hours on Thursday.
Close to midnight Indian time, there was no official word on the outcome of the meeting, which involved intense discussions on the crisis, the future of bilateral border management agreements and the state of the bilateral relationship itself.
India has repeatedly made it clear that peace on the borders is now a requisite for healthy bilateral ties.
The first in-person meeting between the foreign ministers of India and China was keenly watched around the world. It began after a luncheon huddle of the RIC (Russia-India-China) trilateral grouping. Hosted by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, it was intended to be an ice-breaker before the bilateral talks began.
China maintained tough rhetoric
In the past week, fears of an escalated conflict between the two sides heightened even as Indian forces defended their newly-acquired positions on the heights of the south bank of Pangong Tso while Chinese forces have stepped up probing advances. Army sources said Indian forces strengthened defences and positions in areas such as Gurung Hill, Magar Hill, Rezang La and Richen La. This, and similar pushback initiatives by the Indian Army, have reversed the tactical disadvantage that India found itself in the Pangong area.
The signal to China has been clear that it would have to risk conflict in trying to dislodge Indian troops or consider the need for a purposeful dialogue to resolve issues. China has been loud and angry, and according to sources, PLA troops have been incessant in challenging Indian positions and while also moving tanks in the Chushul region and carrying out live fire drills.
These developments indicate how difficult it would be to work out a political understanding. If a breakthrough were indeed to happen here, it could still take a while for it to reflect on the ground. Jaishankar has reiterated that any resolution would have to be political and achieved through diplomacy. “I would say that I am totally convinced that a solution to the situation has to be found in the domain of diplomacy. And I say that with responsibility,” he said earlier this week.
China has maintained a steady stream of tough rhetoric. Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe, who met Rajnath Singh in Moscow last week, was quoted to have said, “The root and truth of the current tensions is very clear. The Indian side is entirely responsible. Not an inch of China’s territory shall be lost. The Chinese military is absolutely determined, capable and confident in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Singh, in turn, told the Chinese leader that India will not concede any territory and will be seeking restoration of status quo on the LAC.
Jaishankar met Lavrov on the evening of September 9 for a bilateral discussion. Russia has been working behind the scenes to try and bring about some discussion between India and China.
The MEA spokesperson said, “This was the first physical meeting after the Covid situation and there was excellent discussion on bilateral matters, regional developments and international issues of concern. The two ministers also followed up on outcomes of PM’s visit to Vladivostok for the 5th EEF in September 2019.”
Source Times of India

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