External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi held a one-hour meeting in the Indonesian city of Bali on Thursday, focusing on the lingering border row in eastern Ladakh, the issue of return of Indian students to China and resumption of direct flights between the two countries. The talks took place on the sidelines of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the G20 countries.
Jaishankar tweeted that the talks focused on “specific outstanding issues” pertaining to the border situation, in an oblique reference to the over two-year-old military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. “Began my day in Bali by meeting FM Wang Yi of China. Discussion lasted one hour. Focused on specific outstanding issues in our bilateral relationship pertaining to the border situation,” the external affairs minister said.
India has been pressing for quick disengagement of troops from all the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh to ensure de-escalation of the situation, asserting that peace and tranquillity along the border are pre-requisite for progress in overall ties.”Also spoke about other matters including students and flights,” Jaishankar said. Thousands of Indian students were unable to return to China for over two years due to Beijing’s COVID-19 restrictions. India has been taking up the issue with China several times.There have been discussions between the two sides on the resumption of direct flights but there has been no forward movement on the issue. The flight services were suspended due to the pandemic.It was the first meeting between the two foreign ministers since Wang visited India on March 24 and 25.
In May, India and China held diplomatic talks on the border row and agreed to hold the next round of the Senior Commanders’ meeting at an early date to achieve complete disengagement from all friction points in eastern Ladakh. However, both sides are yet to decide on the military talks. The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas.
The face-off escalated after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15 that year. Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry. As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area. Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the LAC in the sensitive sector.