India will participate in the virtual meeting of the Russia-India-China grouping on June 23, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on Thursday. The Indian decision to go ahead with the ministerial level exchange has created an opening for de-escalation of tension along the Line of Actual Control with the Russian diplomatic sources indicating that they support “constructive dialogue” over the tension in eastern Ladakh .
The confirmation from the Indian side came a day after External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi spoke over phone regarding the killing of at least 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley on June 15 . It is understood that RIC is likely to throw up a moment of frank exchange between the Indian and the Chinese sides if the ministers decide to bring up the Ladakh scenario during their exchanges.
“Bilateral problems are not supposed to be discussed while we certainly appreciate the efforts from both sides, including on the high level, aimed at maintaining constructive dialogue and the situation in the LAC de-escalated,” said a Russian diplomatic source who highlighted that Moscow is trusted by both India and China.
The official said RIC is a “useful platform to support a unified agenda” and several regional and global challenges like the coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) pandemic and the 75th anniversary of the United Nations may also come up during the discussion among the three Ministers. The Russian reiteration of support for dialogue between China and India came even though Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said bilateral issues were usually not taken up at RIC.
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Dr. Jaishankar discussed the Ladakh face-off with Mr. Wang on Wednesday during which he asked the Chinese side to “reassess” its position regarding the Galwan Valley and urged for de-escalation . A statement issued by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said after the telephone conversation that both sides had agreed “to cool down the situation”.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava highlighted the ongoing military and diplomatic discussion that began on June 6 and said on Thursday that both sides had made progress but the process broke down when “on the late evening and night of June 15, a violent face-off happened when the Chinese side unilaterally attempted to change the status quo there.”
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“They took premeditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties suffered by both sides. This could have been avoided had the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side,” said Mr. Srivastava. Laying out the Indian position, the official argued that India is committed to protecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity even as it remains “firmly convinced of the need for maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and resolution of differences through dialogue.”