India on Thursday said its military talks with China on the border row have no connection with “any extraneous issue”, comments that came in the backdrop of recently concluded Indo-US 2+2 dialogue. During the talks, the two countries discussed Beijing’s military belligerence in eastern Ladakh and Indo-Pacific region and inked a strategic defence pact.
About the next round of corps commander-level talks with China, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the two sides have agreed to maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible.
“As regards the next round of talks, we will let you know when we have further information to share. Let me make it clear that there is no connection between this and any extraneous issue,” he said at a media briefing.
The spokesperson was replying to questions on the Sino-India boundary row, and whether China has delayed the next round of military talks due to signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) between India and the US during their 2+2 dialogue.
On October 27, India and the US inked the BECA that provides for sharing of high-end military technology, classified satellite data and critical information.
“As regards the recent 2+2, …the external affairs minister had stated that the Indo-Pacific region was a particular focus of our talks. We reiterated the importance of peace, stability and prosperity for all countries in this region,” Srivastava said. “This is possible only by upholding the rules-based international order, ensuring the freedom of navigation in the international seas, promoting open connectivity and respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” he said.
China’s military belligerence in eastern Ladakh and Indo-Pacific region figured during the 2+2 strategic dialogue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strongly affirming that it stands firmly with New Delhi in its efforts to defend sovereignty. In its reaction, China urged Pompeo to stop sowing discord between Beijing and other countries in the region.
In his briefing, Srivastava also referred to the last round of military dialogue between Indian and Chinese armies on 12 October, saying it enabled in-depth discussions between the two sides resulting in enhanced understanding of each other’s positions. “The two sides had agreed to maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible,” he said.
The MEA Spokesperson said the two sides agreed to implement the understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries is not to turn differences into disputes, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas. “Accordingly we have maintained communications with the Chinese side with a view to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution to the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and restore full peace and tranquillity,” he said.
The two sides have so far held seven rounds of high-level military talks on the border row. However, there has been no breakthrough on the disengagement of troops from the friction points so far. India has been maintaining that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the mountainous region.
Following the sixth round of military talks, the two sides announced a slew of decisions including not to send more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters. The sixth round of talks took place with a specific agenda of exploring ways to implement a five-point agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a meeting in Moscow on September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conclave.
The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.
On being asked about Pakistan’s reaction on changed land laws in Jammu and Kashmir, the MEA said, “No country has locus standi to comment on the internal affairs of India.” He also said that the decision to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor will be in line with COVID-19 protocol. “We are in touch with all the concerned authorities,” he added.