India did not mince words with China when the two defence ministers met on Thursday.
With the Galwan incident still rankling, New Delhi told Beijing unequivocally that "violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations." Rajnath showed the Chinese the mirror even as he underscored the need for peace and tranquillity at the border.
A communiqué released after Singh's meeting with his Chinese counterpart General Li Shangfu read, "The Raksha Mantri categorically conveyed that development of relations between India and China is premised on prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders.’’
‘‘He added that all issues at the LAC need to be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and commitments. He reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation," the statement added.
Both sides agreed on maintaining peace in the border areas
The 18 rounds of talks between the military commanders of India and China have led to disengagement in certain areas of Ladakh, including Hot Springs, Galwan, and north bank of Pangong Lake. But there has been little movement on the ground in Demchok and Depsang, where the Chinese occupy large tracts. After the meet earlier this week, both sides agreed to "speed up" the settlement of "relevant issues" and maintain peace in border areas.
Repeated Chinese provocation in Ladakh has led to standoffs with Indian soldiers, Galwan being the worse such faceoff when 20 Indian soldiers died in a scuffle in 2020. Since then, there have been reports of China slicing off territory in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh; it has also built up infrastructure in the area, including roads and airfields.
Rajnath Singh met his counterpart on the sidelines of the meeting of defence ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) being hosted by India.
Li's visit to India is the first by a Chinese defence minister after the eastern Ladakh border standoff began three years ago.
Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang is also set to visit India next week to attend a conclave of foreign ministers of SCO member countries in Goa. The meeting is slated for May 4 and 5.
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