Amid border tension in eastern Ladakh, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Thursday stressed the need to maintain peace and tranquillity at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The ministers held over two-hour-long talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers' meet in Russian capital city Moscow.
This is the first in-person meet between the foreign ministers since the border tension flared up in May but both of them had spoken to each other after the Galwan incident of June in which India lost 20 of its soldiers. They have come face to face thrice in Moscow on September 10--first at SCO FMs meet, then for the Russia, India and China FMs Lunch and later for the bilateral meet.
Earlier MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said "this issue will be discussed" when asked at a media briefing whether the four-month-long border faceoff will be raised by Jaishankar at the talks. Jaishankar and Wang are in Moscow to attend the SCO meeting.
A meeting between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe on the margins of another SCO meet in Moscow last week apparently did not yield any tangible outcome.
On September 10 (Thursday), India and China agreed to hold Corps commander levels talks soon and while the date and time of the meet are yet to be decided, it will be the sixth such meet since June. The talks have taken held five times so far on June 6, 22 and 30, July 14 and August 2.
Meanwhile, on the ground, the situation remains tense even as at some places Indian and Chinese forces are just 300 meters away. No fresh aggressive action by the Chinese side has been observed, which on September 7 and 8 indulged in "provocative" action according to the Indian Army.
Indian and Chinese Brigade Commander and Commanding Officers interacted on Thursday for three hours from 11 am to 2 pm and the status quo continues. A govt source said that the aim is to "keep lines of communication open" between the two sides. A massive spike in border tensions in eastern Ladakh was triggered by fresh face-offs between the armies of India and China along the LAC.
The Indian Army on September 8 said Chinese troops attempted to close in on an Indian position near the southern bank of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh the previous evening and fired shots in the air, a first such instance of bullets being used along the LAC after a gap of 45 years.
The Army said this in a statement after the Chinese People's Liberation Army(PLA) late on September 7 night alleged that Indian troops crossed the LAC and "outrageously fired" warning shots near the Pangong lake.
The Indian Army in a release on September 8 said, "PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air" and "despite the grave provocation, own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner".
India has occupied several dominating heights close to China's existing positions at Finger 4, north bank of Pangong Lake. The development gives the Indian Army an edge over the Chinese even as PLA troops continue to indulge in provocative actions.
The Chinese have occupied Finger 4 to Finger 8 in the north bank of Pangong Lake. As part of disengagement, India has repeatedly asked Chinese forces to go on its side of LAC and vacate the area.