Chinese minister seeks normal relations with India, Delhi says it eases border tension first

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India said relations with China cannot be normal until its forces withdraw from each other on the disputed border, but Beijing reached a conciliatory note during a meeting of its foreign ministers in New Delhi on Friday.

The two countries have deployed thousands of troops to the high-altitude border since hand-to-hand combats killed 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers north of the Ladakh region of the Himalayas in June 2020. Talks between senior military officers have made little progress. Read more

“I was very sincere in my discussions with the Chinese foreign minister, especially in conveying our patriotic feelings,” Indian External Affairs Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar told a news briefing after his three-hour meeting with Wang Yi.

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“The frictions and tensions arising from Chinese deployments since April 2020 cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship between the two neighbors.”

In a statement, Wang said China and India should work together to promote peace and stability around the world.

“The two sides…should put differences on the border issue in a proper position in bilateral relations, and adhere to the right development direction of bilateral relations,” he said.

“China does not pursue a so-called ‘unipolar Asia’ and respects India’s traditional role in the region. The whole world will pay attention when China and India work side by side.”

Jaishankar, a former ambassador to Beijing, said India had not announced Wang’s visit before his arrival in the capital late Thursday, at China’s request.

Wang met India’s National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, who also lobbied him for a de-escalation at the border.

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It was not immediately clear if India had offered to withdraw its forces if China did.

China’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Saturday, said Wang called for the border issue to be transferred from the state of emergency to the normal administration as soon as possible.

The statement added that the two sides agreed to expedite the resolution of the remaining issues, appropriately manage the situation on the ground, and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation.

Wang and Jaishankar also discussed their countries’ approach to addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We both agreed on the importance of an immediate ceasefire, as well as a return to diplomacy,” Jaishankar said.

Both India and China regard Russia as a friend and have rejected Western calls to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special military operation.”

Wang, who visited Pakistan and Afghanistan earlier this week, is due to travel to Himalayan Nepal later on Friday for a brisk tour of South Asia, where China is trying to boost its influence.

Before his arrival, Wang drew a reprimand from India over his statements in Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region each partially governed but fully claimed, an issue in which China generally supports its close ally Pakistan. Read more

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Additional reporting by Krishna In Das, Sanjeev Migliani and Devgyot Ghoshal in New Delhi and Yu Lun Tian in Beijing; Additional reporting by CK Nayak. Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Philippa Fletcher and Lincoln Fest

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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