New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang at a meeting that the state of India-China relations is “abnormal” as their talks focused on addressing the challenges in bilateral ties, especially that of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
Jaishankar’s first in-person meeting with Qin came on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers conclave amid the over 34-month-long border row in eastern Ladakh. Qin took charge as Chinese foreign minister in December, succeeding Wang Yi.
“It’s our first meeting after he took over as foreign minister. We spent maybe about 45 minutes talking to each other and the bulk of our conversation, understandably, was about the current state of our relationship, which many of you have heard me describe as abnormal,” Jaishankar told reporters.
“And those were among the adjectives that I used in that meeting. There are real problems in that relationship that need to be looked at, that need to be discussed very openly and candidly between us,” he said.
The external affairs minister said the thrust of the meeting was on the bilateral relationship.
“We also had a brief discussion on what was happening in the G20 framework. But the thrust of the meeting was really on our bilateral relationship and the challenges in the bilateral relationship, especially that of peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” he said.
Qin arrived in Delhi on Thursday morning to attend the G20 meeting hosted by India under its presidency of the influential grouping.
“Met Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on the sidelines of #G20FMM this afternoon. Our discussions were focused on addressing current challenges to the bilateral relationship, especially peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” Jaishankar said on Twitter earlier.
“We also spoke about the G20 agenda,” he said.
Qin also had a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
In an address at the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, Qin highlighted China’s peace plan to resolve the Ukraine conflict.
“Global development and prosperity cannot be achieved without a peaceful and stable international environment. With this in mind, China has put forward the Global Security Initiative, and issued the position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” he said.
“China will always stand on the side of peace, actively promote peace talks, and play a constructive role,” he said.
In his remarks, he also said that the G20 must contribute to global development and prosperity.
“The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. Faced with a volatile international situation and rising global challenges, the G20 must rise to the occasion, enhance cooperation, and contribute its share to global development and prosperity,” he said.
India has been maintaining that its ties with China cannot be normal unless there is peace in the border areas.
The talk between the foreign ministers came nearly eight months after Jaishankar held a meeting with the then-Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Bali on the sidelines of a G20 meeting.
At the hour-long meeting on July 7, Jaishankar conveyed to Wang the need for early resolution of all the outstanding issues in Eastern Ladakh.
The external affairs minister had told Wang that the relationship between the two countries should be based on “three mutuals” — mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests.
Wang had visited India in March last year,
In line with a decision taken at the 16th round of military talks, the two sides carried out disengagement from Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area in September last year.
But the face-off between the two of the planet’s biggest military forces lingered on in Demchok and Depsang regions though the Indian side pressed for completion of the disengagement in remaining friction points at the earliest.
On February 22, India and China held in-person diplomatic talks in Beijing and discussed proposals for disengagement in the remaining friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in an “open and constructive manner”.
The meeting took place under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).
The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area.
The ties between the two countries nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.