Today's Paper

Jaishankar, Wang hold talks

A step forward:External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and China's Wang Yiin Moscow on Wednesday.AP  

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held their first face-to-face meeting in Moscow on Thursday to discuss the four-month- long stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, which has seen violent clashes and even gunfire for the first time since 1975.

The meeting took place on Thursday evening, after the completion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council’s Foreign Minister’s meeting as well as a Russia-India-China trilateral meeting that both Ministers attended. However, the outcome of the India-China bilateral meeting was not immediately known.

“Both India and China are in regular touch through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the situation, and this was the consensus when the two Ministers met,” said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, confirming the meeting between Mr. Jaishankar and Mr. Wang.

“As we have reiterated several times in the past, India is committed to resolving the situation on the India-China border through peaceful negotiations,” he said.

Meanwhile, there was little change at the LAC, where ground commanders at the north bank of Pangong Tso (lake) met for the second consecutive day.

Commanders’ meet

China has amassed more troops and occupied ridges in the Finger area of Pangong Tso since Tuesday night, although Indian troops are holding on to dominant positions on the South Bank, said officials. A senior government official said the commanders meeting was cordial but remained inconclusive. He added that status quo was maintained on Thursday.

Mr. Jaishankar, who travelled to Russia to attend the 8 -nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, also held bilateral meetings with Foreign Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan on the sidelines of the 2-day Council of Foreign Ministers meet. The only member of SCO he did not meet was Pakistan, whose Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was also present.

In what would be considered a provocative statement in New Delhi, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that they had discussed India when Mr. Qureshi met with Mr. Wang on Thursday evening, a meeting that took place before Mr. Wang’s meeting with Mr. Jaishankar.

Pakistan statement

“Foreign Minister Qureshi emphasized that India’s expansionist and unilateral actions, particularly since August 5, 2019, have been imperilling regional peace and security,” said a Pakistani MFA statement issued in Islamabad, referring to the government’s moves with Jammu and Kashmir and Article 370 last year.

The MEA did not respond to the Pakistani statement.

Earlier Mr. Jaishankar and Mr. Wang took part in an extended lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as part of the Russia-India-China trilateral. Russia has consistently encouraged dialogue between Delhi and Beijing, particularly at the most tense moments of the crisis. In the days after the Galwan clash in June in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, Russia hosted a videoconference meeting of the RIC trilateral.