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Sino-Indian talks to end disengagement impasse this week

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India and China will hold consultations this week to break the impasse over disengagement of troops along certain friction points on the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs has not met for two months.

PLA is yet to disengage from the Depsang area and since its terrain allows easy movement of tanks, this remains a worry for India, which has insisted that the Pangong Tso model of disengagement must be followed. This will be emphasised at the WMCC, ET has learnt.

The WMCC meet led by the MEA will include joint secretary level officials from the defence and home ministry, and officers from the military operations directorate of the Army and Indo Tibetan Border Police.

Speaking at Qatar Economic Forum on Tuesday night, ahead of the WMCC, foreign minister S Jaishankar said the onus was on China to adhere to written agreements with India on not deploying large numbers of armed troops along the border to ensure that the two countries can take forward their relationship based on mutual sensitivity.

With “close up deployments” continuing on LAC, the two “big issues” between New Delhi and Beijing are “whether China would live up to the written commitments it has made about both countries not deploying a large armed force at the border”, and “whether we can build this relationship on the basis of mutual sensitivity, mutual respect and mutual interest”, he said.

Referring to Quad and India-China LAC standoff the minister said: “The India-China border issue has pre-existed the Quad. In many ways, it’s a challenge, a problem quite independent of the Quad.” The Quad, on the other hand, brings together four countries with a common agenda that includes maritime security, connectivity and vaccines. “They have their own agenda, what I would say a set of convergence, a world view. They meet and they talk about a whole lot of things,” he said.

Asked about the G7’s approach towards China – which includes cooperation on issues such as climate change, competition in trade and disagreement on matters such as human rights – Jaishankar said India shares the G7’s views on the importance of resilient and reliable supply chains.

“We feel we can also contribute to it by expanding our own manufacturing capabilities and one of the big initiatives of the Modi government is something called the PLI (production-linked incentive) scheme which is designed to attract more manufacturing into India,” he said.

On issues such as open societies and democratic freedoms, there is “much stronger convergence” between India and the G7. “It is a far more issue-based relationship that we are seeing in world politics,” he remarked.

Replying to a question on India’s possible participation in the G7’s Build Back Better World or B3W initiative that is aimed at countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Jaishankar said the country has a history of its own connectivity and infrastructure projects in 62 countries.

“But what we share with the G7 is that today, it is important to have broad principles that such projects should be viable [and] transparent, they should not contribute to debt, they should be environmentally friendly,” he said.

“So it is an area where we do feel that there is a lot of convergence with the G7 and we are looking forward to working with them. But as I said we have a substantial portfolio of projects we have already done in the last few years and which I expect to see us continue to do more in the coming years,” he added.

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