The disengagement and de-escalation process between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a “work in progress”, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday.
Jaishankar’s remarks, made during an appearance on India Global Week, a three-day virtual event organised by a UK-based media house, reflected the differences that persist between the two sides despite the decision made by them almost a week ago to pull back troops from key friction points along the LAC.
Asked by the moderator of the event about the border standoff with China, Jaishankar said: “What’s just happened is that we have agreed on theneed to disengagebecause the troops on both sides are deployed very close to each other.
“So there is a disengagement and a de-escalation process which has been agreed upon. It has just commenced. It’s very much work in progress. At this point, I really wouldn’t like to say more than that.”
During the third virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs on Friday, India and China said they would push forward efforts aimed at complete disengagement and easing of tensions along the LAC even as differences persisted on key issues such as Beijing’s claim on Galwan Valley.
The corps commanders of the two sides are set to meet next week for the fourth time since thestandoff began in early Mayto decide on the next steps of the disengagement and de-escalation process.
Though both sides have pulled back their troops and created so-called buffer zones at key friction points, the presence of large numbers of Chinese troops and structures at places such as Pangong Lake continues to be a concern for the Indian side.
China’s envoy to India, Sun Weidong, on Friday said the two sides need to find a “fair and reasonable” solution to the border issue through peaceful negotiation and also work together to maintain peace and tranquillity along the disputed frontier till an ultimate settlement is reached.
Jaishankar also spoke on India’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, relations with key countries such as the US, the UK, Australia and Singapore and the emerging post-Coronavirus world order.
India is conscious of the Covid-19-related challenges ahead and the next few weeks and months will be “tough”, he acknowledged. With India the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, the country will have a role in making any vaccine for the Corona