LAC standoff | India will not accept less than bottom line in talks with China, says Jaish...

LAC standoff | India will not accept less than bottom line in talks with China, says Jaishankar

Talks with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) could take much longer, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar indicated on Wednesday, drawing a parallel to a similar military stand-off in Arunachal Pradesh’s ‘Sumdorong Chu’ in 1986 that took nearly nine years to resolve.

Adding that India and China must take a “long view” of the border dispute and not just the “incidents” at the LAC this year, Mr. Jaishankar cautioned Beijing against dealing with India through the prism of a “third party”, in a reference to India’s close ties with the United States.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr. Jaishankar said he could not divulge details of the ongoing negotiations with the Chinese side on resolving the stand-off in Ladakh.

When asked about how long the talks, which have seen eight rounds of military commander-level negotiations, would continue, Mr. Jaishankar said it was necessary to remember the Sumdorong Chu crisis of 1986. Several years of talks were fruitless before the two armies, which were eyeball to eyeball in the Tawang region, disengaged in 1995. In between, the two sides signed the breakthrough 1993 agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control.

Mr. Jaishankar said for India, the bottom line is that China has violated past agreements by amassing troops at the border and that if “peace and tranquillity” at the border is disturbed the rest of the India-China relationship is affected.

“Complicated issues will take time and I will go for what is my interest and my bottom line. I mean, I will not be stampeded into accepting something which is less,” he said, adding that India had undertaken an “enormous military response” in reaction to the Chinese deployment.

He added that reports of Chinese occupation of land in Depsang and north Pangong Tso did not set out “the totality of the ground picture fairly”.

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