Jaishankar discusses LAC with Qin, holds talks with Lavrov, but not Bilawal Bhutto

Mr. Jaishankar held bilateral talks with Mr. Qin in Benaulim on the sidelines of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of SCO

Updated - May 05, 2023 01:38 am IST

Published - May 04, 2023 07:16 pm IST - Benaulim

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar meets State Councillor and FM Qin Gang of China on the sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, in Panaji on May 4, 2023.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar meets State Councillor and FM Qin Gang of China on the sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, in Panaji on May 4, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The unresolved three-year old military stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) remained the “focus” of India-China talks as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang here on May 4, and held a “detailed” discussion on bilateral ties. This is the second time the two Ministers have held talks this year, as Mr. Qin had previously attended the G-20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Delhi in March. 

Mr. Jaishankar also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Bakhtiyor Saidov, after which he hosted them and all the other Foreign Ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), gathered at this Goan beach resort for a meeting on Friday. However, no bilateral meeting was held or outlooked by officials between Mr. Jaishankar and Pakistan FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, although the two Ministers greeted each other and shook hands at the dinner event, sources said. 

Focus on border issues

“A detailed discussion with State Councillor and FM Qin Gang of China on our bilateral relationship. [The] focus remains on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquility in the border areas. [We] also discussed SCO, G20 and BRICS,” Mr. Jaishankar said in a tweet about his meeting with the Chinese FM, although neither side issued any official statement about the talks.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar meets State Councillor and FM Qin Gang of China.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar meets State Councillor and FM Qin Gang of China. | Photo Credit: PTI

Mr. Jaishankar also tweeted that he had held a “comprehensive review“ of the bilateral, global and multilateral cooperation between India and Russia with Mr. Lavrov.

A statement released by the Russian Embassy said that the two Ministers had held a “trust-based exchange of views” on all issues, and on their cooperation as part of the India-Russia Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.

Breaking an impasse

Both Mr. Jaishankar’s meetings with the Russian and Chinese Ministers lasted more than an hour each, and included discussions about other upcoming events, including the SCO and G-20 summits in India, and the BRICS summit in South Africa, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In particular, Russia and China have held up consensus on the joint communique that India is hoping to release during the G-20 summit in September. They are opposing its description of the Ukraine war, and Mr. Jaishankar is understood to have discussed possible ways to break the impasse over the communique in the coming months, when a number of G-20 ministerial meetings will be held.

“The intention to further strengthen coordination to develop common approaches within the framework of interaction at the most important international platforms, including the SCO, BRICS, the UN and the G20 was confirmed,” the Russian statement said, adding that India and Russia were committed to “building a fair multipolar system of interstate relations”.

Drone accusations

Mr. Lavrov arrived in Delhi on Thursday morning, a day after Russia claimed that the Kremlin had been targeted by unmanned drones from Ukraine, which the Ukrainian President denied. He is expected to raise the issue during the SCO FM deliberations on Friday as well, even as the Russian Foreign Ministry released a strong statement accusing Kiev of an act of “terrorism”, threatening “counter-measures”, and calling for international support.

“The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the international community and international organisations which are free from double standards and seek guidance from international law must condemn this new criminal undertaking by the Kiev regime,” the statement added.

During his visit to Goa, Mr. Qin also met with relatives of Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis — one of five Indian doctors who travelled to China in 1938 during the China-Japan war and was seen as a key figure in India-China ties — and said that India and China must “promote the continuous development of friendly cooperation” between them. After attending the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Mr. Qin is expected to travel to Islamabad along with Mr. Bhutto for bilateral talks and a trilateral meeting with Afghanistan’s Taliban FM Amir Khan Muttaqi.

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