India External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday said India and China have made progress on five-six friction points along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh through dialogue in the last three years and efforts are on to resolve the remaining issues.
Rejecting the opposition’s criticism of the government on the border dispute, he told a group of reporters that there were complexities involved and that both sides were engaged in finding a solution. Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a standoff for more than three years at some friction points in eastern Ladakh, while both sides have completed disengagement from several areas after extensive diplomatic and military talks.
He said, “It was said that we will not be able to do anything, talks will not succeed, there will be no progress, disengagement cannot happen, but in the last three years, solutions were found on some focal points.”
“There were five-six areas that were very tense. (There) has been progressing,” he said. Highlighting the government’s priority to develop border infrastructure, Jaishankar said the armed forces are now in a better position to deploy troops quickly and effectively counter Chinese troop movement. If you ask whether, after 2014, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are better able to deploy and counter any Chinese movement, the answer is “yes, absolutely,” he said.
Jaishankar said that there has been a tremendous increase in the overall mobility of both the armed forces and the civilian population in the border areas in the last few years as the government’s focus is on rapid augmentation of infrastructure in the border areas.
“The capacity is increasing year by year,” he said. The minister said that advancing infrastructure along the northern border would determine India’s response to national security challenges. Relations between India and China took a nosedive after the fierce Galwan Valley clash in June 2020, the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.
India has made it clear to China that the relationship between the two countries cannot move forward until there is peace in the border areas. Jaishankar said that India is also increasing connectivity with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. He said India is in talks with Bhutan for a rail link between Bhutan and Assam.