India, China set for post Wuhan boundary talks

A file photo of Army men keeping watch on the India-China border at Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh.

A file photo of Army men keeping watch on the India-China border at Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh.   | Photo Credit: AP

The 21st round of talks between the Special Representatives of both the countries will take place on Saturday.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval will be in Chengdu, China, on Friday for boundary talks with foreign minister and state councilor Wang Yi, to build on the Wuhan informal summit in April between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The 21st round of talks between the two Special Representatives (SRs), which will mainly take place on Saturday, is unlikely to yield any major breakthrough on the resolution of the boundary question, especially as India goes into election mode till the middle of next year.

“This is likely to be a major brainstorming exercise but the political situation is not ripe for a big ticket breakthrough right now,” an official source said.

The two senior officials are also expected to prepare for a meeting between Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi on the sidelines of a G-20 meeting that begins on November 30 in Argentina capital Buenos Aires.

Attack on Karachi consulate

The talks, which are taking place amid a terror attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi on Friday, are likely to sharpen the focus on “regional situation,” which includes Pakistan and Afghanistan.

At a press conference after the Wuhan summit in April, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had stressed that, “While one of the areas of focus was to maintain peace and tranquility [on the borders], I think the work of the Special Representatives on finding a solution to the boundary question will continue unabated.”

The Foreign Secretary had affirmed that talks on the resolution of border differences would be based on principles and parameters anchored in a 2005 agreement.

India and China have a border dispute along the western, central and eastern sectors of their 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Analysts say that during the SR dialogue, a discussion on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to keep the borders calm is expected to feature prominently. Already, during the talks on November 13 between visiting Defence Secretary, Sanjay Mitra, and his Chinese counterpart, Shao Yuanming, both sides agreed to add another layer of exchanges between the military personnel of the two countries.

For the first time, cadets from the Indian and Chinese military academies, as well mid-level officers, will meet each other regularly.

“The atmosphere during the defence talks was excellent, which reflected the visible and gradual easing of tensions following the Doklam crisis and the Wuhan informal summit,” a diplomatic source said.

Coordinated patrolling in 16 “grey areas” along LAC

Earlier, in an interview with The Hindu, Hu Shisheng, senior researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) had advocated coordinated patrolling in 16 “grey areas” along the LAC to prevent Doklam-type stand-offs.

“The deployment does not matter. Both sides know each other’s deployment. The problem is the patrolling route. Real time coordination on patrolling routes is one of the effective ways of avoiding standoffs,” he observed.

The Chinese scholar said the idea of sychronising patrolling was not novel. But after the Wuhan informal summit, coordinated patrolling could be more strongly “institutionalised”.

In Chengdu, both the senior officials are likely to expand on points of convergence in Afghanistan.

During an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN), India’s ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale pointed out that India and China had “kicked off” a project of jointly training Afghan diplomats. “But we are looking forward to do something more with China in Afghanistan,” he added

Diplomatic sources highlighted that India’s approach to Afghanistan, of investing in its social and physical infrastructure, as well as training, in tune with Kabul’s needs, is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

“We will not be tempted to go into hard areas such as any direct involvement in Afghanistan’s security, despite pressures that may arise from external sources,” the diplomatic source said.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:46:44 AM |

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