India tells China peace needed on border for better ties


New Delhi (Reuters) – India’s defence minister told his Chinese counterpart on Thursday that improved relations depend on “peace and tranquillity” returning to their frontier disturbed by military tensions, an Indian government statement said.

Relations between the nuclear-armed Asian giants have deteriorated since mid-2020, when Chinese and Indian troops clashed on their disputed Himalayan frontier, leaving 24 dead.

The situation has largely calmed after military and diplomatic talks but the faceoff continues in pockets along the 3,800-km (2,360-mile) frontier.

India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh underlined New Delhi’s position on its strained ties with Beijing at a meeting with Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu in the Indian capital, the statement said.

Singh “categorically conveyed that development of relations between India and China is premised on prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders”, it said.

“He reiterated that violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations and disengagement at the border will logically be followed with de-escalation,” the statement added.

India accuses China of frequently intruding into its side of the disputed border in violation of agreements signed since the 1990s. Beijing denies the accusations and blames New Delhi for the transgressions.

China has not issued any comment about the meeting.

China pushed for engagement and cooperation between the two militaries but was told by India that could happen only if there is tranquillity on the border, two Indian sources told Reuters.

The two ministers met ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) defence ministers’ gathering in New Delhi.

The meeting is the first between defence ministers of the two countries since September 2020 when they held talks on the sidelines of a SCO meeting in Moscow.

It is also the first visit by a Chinese defence minister to India since the violence in the Himalayas began in May 2020.

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