India had ‘very difficult’ 2.5 years in ties with China: Jaishankar

Sydney: India had “very difficult” two-and-a-half-years in its ties with China which included the first bloodshed on their border after 40 years, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, but asserted that he kept the communication lines open with Beijing as neighbors have to deal with each other.

Jaishankar made the remarks while responding to questions after his address at the Lowy Institute on the growing importance of India’s relationship with Australia and the interests that both countries share as members of the security-focused Quad.

“We had a two-and-a-half very difficult years in our relationship with China, which has included the first bloodshed we’ve had on the border after 40 years and where we actually lost 20 soldiers,” Jaishankar said while responding to a question.

“But our endeavor has been to keep the communication lines going. In fact, the morning after that, I called up my counterpart Wang Yi and urged him to ensure that there are no escalatory moves or complicated moves on the Chinese side,” said the minister, who was the Indian Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2013.

India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are important for the overall development of bilateral ties. The Indian and Chinese militaries have held 16 rounds of Corps Commander-level talks to resolve the standoff.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas. Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.

Indian and Chinese militaries on September 12 had moved back their frontline troops to the rear locations from the face-off site of Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area in eastern Ladakh and dismantled temporary infrastructure there as part of a five-day disengagement process.

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