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Days ahead of an expected meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Monday that the standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) cannot be delinked from the overall bilateral relationship.
Jaishankar, who is set to meet Wang on the margins of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers’ meeting in Moscow on September 10, said the failure to observe several understandings on border management dating back to 1993 raises “very important questions” about the status of ties with China.
“If peace and tranquillity on the border is not a given, then it cannot be that the rest of the relationship continues on the same basis, because clearly peace and tranquillity is the basis for the relationship,” he said while participating in an online interaction organised by The Indian Express newspaper to mark the release of his book ‘The India Way’.
Jaishankar declined to go into details of exactly what he would discuss with his Chinese counterpart but said his position would be built around certain broad principles, including how peace and tranquillity on the border over the past 30 years had allowed the rest of the relationship to progress. During this period, China had emerged as India’s second largest trade partner despite the existence of some differences and problems, he noted.
He emphasised that “the state of the border cannot be delinked from the state of the relationship”, and the standoff had brought into focus a number of understandings with China on border management which go back to 1993, he said. These understandings stipulate that both countries will keep forces at a minimum level at the border and also shape the behaviour of the troops and restraints on them, he added.
“If these [understandings] are not observed, then it raises very, very important questions,” Jaishankar said. The “very serious situation” at the LAC since the begin