In a notable exchange on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi engaged with China’s President Xi Jinping, drawing attention to India’s persisting concerns about border matters along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), as confirmed by India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra.
During their discourse, Modi and Xi arrived at an accord to “direct their pertinent officials towards intensified efforts aimed at expeditious disengagement and de-escalation,” Kwatra revealed.
Relations between the two nuclear-armed nations have remained strained for over three years since the confrontation between their soldiers at the Himalayan frontier in June 2020, which tragically resulted in the loss of 24 lives. Although the situation along the extensive 3,000-kilometre border has largely stabilized, lingering confrontations persist in select regions.
At the BRICS summit, Modi astutely brought to Xi’s attention “India’s reservations concerning unresolved matters along the LAC,” articulated Kwatra. The Prime Minister underscored the paramount importance of preserving peace and serenity in border areas while adhering to the Line of Actual Control as a requisite for the normalization of the India-China relationship.
This exchange marks the first instance where Modi directly addressed the issue with Xi, thereby reaffirming India’s steadfast position, which has been communicated to China through various ministerial channels on multiple occasions.
Previously, during their interaction at the Group of 20 nations summit in Indonesia, discussions centered on diplomacy and the necessity to stabilize bilateral relations, although no substantial discourse on the pressing border concerns ensued, as confirmed by Indian authorities.
In pursuit of resolution, negotiations have unfolded at several tiers, but a definitive solution remains elusive. Preceding the leaders’ rendezvous in Johannesburg, military commanders engaged in five days of deliberation along the Himalayan frontier, striving for a breakthrough. Although both sides acknowledged the constructive nature of the talks, concrete progress concerning troop withdrawals was conspicuously absent.
Significantly, China’s foreign and defense ministers visited India earlier this year in conjunction with G20 and Shanghai Cooperation Dialogue events, affording them the opportunity to confer with their Indian counterparts.
In sum, the diplomatic arena remains abuzz with the endeavor to address the persisting border discord between India and China, despite the formidable challenges on the path to a comprehensive resolution.