LAC standoff | Working with China to resolve border issue peacefully, says India

No traction for U.S. President Donald Trump’s mediation offer; Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, however, did not respond to questions about whether Chinese troops remained in areas patrolled by India, particularly in the Galwan valley.

Indian and Chinese sides remain “engaged” through diplomatic and military channels in Delhi and Beijing and at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in order to resolve the situation along the boundaries in Ladakh and Sikkim, the government said on Thursday.

Indicating that India would not accept U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between the two countries, it said the matter was being discussed bilaterally.

“We are fully engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve the issue,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava when asked about Mr. Trump’s assertion that he had conveyed to India and China his willingness to “mediate or arbitrate” on the “raging border dispute” between them.

Position of PLA troops

While giving no details of the nature and extent of the standoff, which has been going for weeks, the MEA said the contact between both sides on the issue included talks in “Delhi and Beijing”. The spokesperson, however, did not respond to questions about whether Chinese troops remained in areas patrolled by India, particularly in the Galwan valley.

“India is committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas with China and our armed forces scrupulously follow the consensus reached by our leaders and the guidance provided. At the same time, we remain firm in our resolve to ensuring India’s sovereignty and national security,” Mr. Srivastava said.

The MEA’s comments came a day after the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the situation at the LAC was “stable and controllable”. While declining to comment on the Chinese statement, the MEA spokesperson said the issues would be resolved according to five agreements on border management signed by India and China between 1993 and 2013.

“Indian troops take a very responsible approach towards border management and strictly follow the procedures laid out in various bilateral agreements and protocols with China to resolve any issue that may arise in the border areas,” said Mr. Srivastava in the most extensive comments made by the government thus far. “The two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels,” he added.

The issues with China are likely to be a part of other diplomatic discussions for the government as well.

Speaking at the weekly briefing for journalists, the spokesperson confirmed that the Prime Minister will hold a virtual summit with Australian Premier Scott Morrison on June 4, where a number of bilateral and regional issues would be discussed. The two leaders are expected to announce a long-pending agreement on the reciprocal use of military bases between them. The two leaders will also discuss strengthening the Indo-Pacific partnership, where sources said China’s recent moves in the South China Sea, as well as the ongoing standoff at the LAC are likely to be discussed.

Meanwhile the MEA is also preparing for another virtual summit between Mr. Modi and the leaders of the European Union, which had to be put off in March this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar held a video conference with his EU counterpart Josep Borrell to discuss the agenda for the 15th EU-India summit, “which will be held as soon as possible,” a press release issued by the EU in Brussels said.

“[Mr. Jaishankar and Mr. Borrell] also discussed relevant foreign policy topics, including Afghanistan, China, and Iran,” said the statement.

With inputs from The Hindu