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Jaishankar, Qin Gang discuss means to resolve border row in Goa meet

Last updated on: May 05, 2023 00:18 IST

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang the importance of resolving the eastern Ladakh border row and ensuring peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control for normalisation of bilateral ties.

IMAGE: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar holds talks with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, in in Benaulim, Goa, May 4, 2023. Photograph: Courtesy S Jaishankar/Twitter

In a tweet, the external affairs minister said the focus remained on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

"A detailed discussion with State Councillor and FM Qin Gang of China on our bilateral relationship. Focus remains on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas," he said. 

Jaishankar said the discussions were also held on issues relating to the SCO, G20 and BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa).


People familiar with the talks said the discussions centred around the border row and Jaishankar insisted on its early resolution.

There was no official readout on the meeting from the Indian and Chinese sides.

The meeting between the two foreign ministers was their second in the last two months. The Chinese foreign minister visited India in March to attend a meeting of the G20 foreign ministers.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Jaishankar held talks with Qin during which he conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that the state of India-China relations is "abnormal" because of the lingering border row in eastern Ladakh.

Last week, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu at a meeting that China's violation of existing border agreements "eroded" the entire basis of ties between the two countries and that all issues relating to the frontier must be resolved in accordance with the existing pacts.

The meeting on April 27 took place in New Delhi on the sidelines of a conclave of the SCO defence ministers.

Days ahead of the meeting between the two defence ministers, the Indian and Chinese armies held 18th round of talks on ending the border row.

In the Corps Commander talks on April 23, the two sides agreed to stay in close touch and work out a mutually acceptable solution to the remaining issues in eastern Ladakh at the earliest.

However, there was no indication of any clear forward movement in ending the three-year row.

The ties between India and China nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

The Indian and the Chinese troops are locked in a standoff in a few friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh for the last three years though they disengaged in several places following a series of military and diplomatic talks.

India has been maintaining that the relationship between the two countries should be based on "three mutuals" -- mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area.

As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area..

Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign minister, who is currently in Goa attending the SCO Foreign Ministers' meeting, said on Thursday that India and China should explore a road to peaceful and friendly coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Qin, who held a bilateral meeting with Jaishankar on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Foreign Ministers' meeting in Goa, also met relatives of Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis, the Indian doctor who served in China during the Chinese Communist revolution headed by Mao Zedong and the World War II.

The minister also met with youth representatives from China and India, a press release issued by the foreign ministry in Beijing said.

Qin pointed out that we should carry forward the spirit of Dr. Kotnis, firmly uphold peace and friendship between China and India, "carry forward people-to-people friendship, constantly increase communication and exchanges between the 1.4 billion Chinese and 1.4 billion Indian people", it said.

The two countries should explore a road of peaceful and friendly coexistence and common rejuvenation of major neighbouring countries, he said, without referring to the festering military standoff in Eastern Ladakh in May 2020 which resulted in the deep freeze of the relations.

In a tweet, Jaishankar said the focus remained on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

"A detailed discussion with State Councillor and FM Qin Gang of China on our bilateral relationship. Focus remains on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas," he said.

Qin said both countries should be committed to promoting mutually beneficial cooperation, enhancing mutual trust and cooperation, jointly safeguarding the common interests of developing countries and international fairness and justice.

He met with relatives of Dr. Kotnis, India-China friendship organizations and representatives of Chinese and Indian youths in Goa. He also visited the photo exhibition of Dr. Kotnis' life together with his relatives.

Qin said that Dr. Kotnis was a great friend of the Chinese people and an outstanding fighter in the anti-fascist war. He dedicated his precious youth and life to the cause of the Chinese people's war of resistance against Japan, the minister added.

The spirit of Dr. Kotnis is a humanitarian spirit of saving the dying and healing the wounded, a heroic spirit of struggle and sacrifice, and more importantly, a spirit of internationalism that advocates peace and friendship and a shared future, he said.

"Today is China's May 4th Youth Day. The young people of China and India are full of vigour and vitality. They are the main force for the development of our two countries," Qin said, adding that "we need to contribute to our people-to-people exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation so that China-India friendship will be passed on from generation to generation".

Dr. Kotnis, who hailed from Sholapur in Maharashtra, came to China in 1938 as part of a five-member team of doctors sent by the Indian National Congress to help the Chinese people during World War II.

He later joined the Communist Party of China in 1942 and died the same year at the age of 32.

His medical assistance during the difficult days of the Chinese revolution was praised by Chinese leader Mao Zedong. His status and memorials were also set in some Chinese cities in recognition of his services.

He was married to Chinese national Guo Qinglan, who died in 2012.

A bronze statue of Kotnis, known in China as Ke Dihua, was unveiled at the medical school at Shijiazhuang in September 2020.

Apart from the school named after him as the Shijiazhuang Ke Dihua Medical Science Secondary Specialised School, there are memorials of Kotnis in both Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, and Tangxian county where he once worked.

Earlier, it was announced in Beijing that the Chinese foreign minister will travel to Pakistan on Friday on a two-day visit after attending the meeting of the SCO Foreign Ministers hosted by India in Goa. .

Qin is attending the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Foreign Ministers meeting being held on May 4 and 5 in Goa where his Pakistan counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari too is taking part.

Besides being the foreign minister, Qin is also the state councillor, a higher rank associated with the ruling Communist Party of China. 

SCO bloc consists of China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India holds the presidency of the grouping for this year.

Significantly the Chinese foreign ministry while announcing the visit of Qin to Myanmar and India on May 2 did not include his visit to Islamabad though Pakistan media reported about it.

Instead, the ministry announced his visit to Pakistan separately on Thursday during which he is due to take part in China-Afghanistan-Pakistan foreign ministers' meeting.

The trilateral is being held less than a month after the “Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan Plus Afghanistan” foreign ministers meeting of China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran in Samarkand, in which Qin presided.

Announcing Qin's visit to Pakistan, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that this will be his first visit to Pakistan after taking charge and “an important part of the recent close and frequent interactions between the high levels of China and Pakistan”.

The reference apparently was the just concluded maiden visit of Pakistan's new Army Chief Asim Munir, in Beijing during which he held a series of meetings with top Chinese Generals and top diplomat Wang Yi who is the director of the office of the foreign affairs commission of the CPC central committee.

During Gen. Munir's visit, China's new Premier Li Qiang also held his first phone call with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and promised continued financial help for Pakistan which is facing a serious political and economic crisis.

In Pakistan Qin will “meet with the leader of Pakistan and co-chair the fourth round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari”, the foreign ministry statement which included a Q&A posted on the website on Friday said.

“The two sides will have in-person and in-depth communication on bilateral relations and the international and regional situation,” it said.

“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and ironclad friends. The friendship is time honoured”, it further said recalling Sharif's “successful” visit to China last November and Li's April 27 phone call with him.

The foreign ministry also hoped that the ties between the two nations would further deepen with the visit of the Chinese foreign minister.

"China hopes that this visit will follow through on the important common understandings between the leaders of the two countries, further, deepen strategic communication and practical cooperation, promote the building of an ever-closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, and contribute positive energy to the region and the wider world,” it said.

About why the fifth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue in less than a month of Samarkand meeting, it said, “although the people of Afghanistan have tided over the most difficult time, they still face severe challenges at the moment and are in dire need of more support and help from the rest of the world”.

The international community need to step up contact and dialogue with the Afghan interim government, support its effort of reconstruction and development, and encourage it to build an inclusive government, exercise moderate governance, develop friendly relations with its neighbours and firmly fight terrorism, it said.

The foreign ministers' meeting among the Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan and the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue are both important platforms for exchanges and cooperation on issues related to Afghanistan and conducive to more consensus among regional countries on the Afghan issue, it said.

“China hopes to exchange views with Afghanistan and Pakistan on the situation in Afghanistan and tri-party cooperation at the Dialogue, so as to build up consensus, consolidate mutual trust, and jointly contribute to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region”, it said.

Manash Pratim Bhuyan in Benaulim
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