During the meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Special Representatives have been ‘tasked’ to consider ‘further measures to maintain peace and tranquility along the border’.
“We agreed that our Special Representatives (SR) will meet soon to continue discussions, seeking early agreement on a framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable boundary settlement,” said Singh.
Their joint statement said that peace and tranquility in the border areas would be maintained in line with the previous agreements.
While it had been a regular feature in earlier joint statements too, officials hope this reiteration would allow National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon to revive the issue of clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during the forthcoming SR talks.
Reiterating that the ‘Depsang incursion’ had kept the border issue at the top of the agenda, Li spoke about the lingering border tension.
“Since we are strategic partners and good friends that can speak to each other with candour, we can’t deny there are some problems between the two sides,” he said. Interestingly, he also mentioned that both sides believe on the need to improve border-related mechanism and make them more efficient.
Indian officials had speculated that the Chinese incursion could have been stage-managed to bring the border dispute, long kept on the back-burner, to the fore and centre of the bilateral relations. Another related hypothesis is that the stand-off was also carried out to get the Indian Government to give its proper attention to the draft pact.
In March, two months before the Chinese troops pitched five tents 19 km after crossing the LAC, China had provided a draft of a new Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, which was to enhance communication channels between the soldiers guarding the long mountainous border.
On May 10, India had handed over its version of the proposed pact, but it did not feature in the talks on Monday.
“We gave them our proposal just a few days ago. The Chinese need a few days to study it like we took time to study this. So, it is something which will be discussed between us and only then you will see the result,” said S Jaishankar, Indian Ambassador to China.