External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday and reviewed the status of disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. The two leaders agreed to remain in touch and establish a hotline for the exchange of opinions between the two ministries, according to a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday morning.
Last week, armies of the two countries which have been locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh concluded withdrawal of troops and weapons from north and south banks of Pangong Tso in the high-altitude region.
Releasing details of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's 75-minute telephonic conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday, the MEA said that China was told that bilateral relations have been impacted severely over last year.
"EAM said that Boundary Question may take time to resolve but disturbance of peace and tranquillity, including by violence, will inevitably have a damaging impact on the relationship," the ministry said.
According to a late-night press release issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, Wang said China and India should firmly follow the right path of mutual trust and cooperation between neighbouring major countries, and not go astray with suspicion and distrust nor fall back on a road of "negative retrogression".
Wang noted that the two countries need to properly handle the border issue so as to prevent the bilateral ties from trapping into a "vicious cycle" because of it.
Jaishankar referred to their meeting in September 2020 in Moscow where the Indian side had expressed its concern on provocative behaviour and unilateral attempts of the Chinese side to alter the status quo, according to the MEA statement. Jaishankar said that during their meeting in Moscow last year they had agreed that the situation in the border areas was not in the interest of either side and decided that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage and ease tensions.
The EAM noted that the two sides had maintained continuous communication since then through both diplomatic and military channels. This had led to progress as both sides had successfully disengaged in the Pangong lake area earlier this month.