India, China to hold border talks on Dec 20-21

A file picture of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting in New Delhi recently   -  PRAKASH SINGH

Meeting comes three months after the Doklam stand-off

New Delhi, December 13

India and China have finally decided to hold the next round of talks on border issues as well as matters related to strategic importance on December 20-21.

The meeting comes more than three months after a bitter military stand-off between the two neighbours in the Doklam areaand after Chinese President Xi Jinping secured a second five-year term as the leader of the ruling Communist Party of China.

The meeting will be held between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and China’s State Councillor and one of their top diplomats Yang Jiechi, both of whom are designated Special Representatives (SR) of their respective countries.

Dates to hold the talks were finalised during a bilateral meeting between Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Russia-India-China (RIC) conference here on Monday, sources told BusinessLine.

During the meeting, both sides discussed the 73-day long Doklam stand-off that saw India and China engage in a bitter military confrontation over the contentious tri-junction area of India, China and Bhutan.

“During the meeting between the External Affairs Minister and Chinese Foreign Minister the issue of Doklam was raised. Both noted the challenge it had posed to the relationship and expressed satisfaction that it was resolved with the disengagement of troops at the face-off site through concerted diplomatic communications,” said Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

He said the Chinese Foreign Minister had conveyed that the peaceful resolution of the Doklam issue reflects the “political maturity” on both sides while India maintained its stance that peace and tranquillity in the border areas is an essential pre-requisite for the smooth progress of bilateral relations.

“To this end, both Foreign Ministers agreed to strengthen strategic communication at all levels, including between them, through the established dialogue mechanisms,” Kumar said.

Minister Wang is also believed to have told his Indian counterpart that the Doklam issue has put “severe pressure” on the Sino-Indian bilateral ties.

During the Special Representatives’ meeting next week, issues such as the revival of the US-Japan-Australia-India Quadrilateral that focusses on maritime cooperation within the Indo-Pacific region may also be discussed.

“The current effort of the SRs is going to be to clarify the Line of Actual Control (LAC). That effort will continue as that is the primary focus. However, this time it may include broader strategic issues such as the revival of the quadrilateral. China has already indicated to India that it should be consulted before committing anything within the quadrilateral, but it is not clear what India will get in return. Diplomacy is, after all, all about reciprocity,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, Professor at the School of International Studies, JNU and an expert on China.

Published on December 13, 2017


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