India's relationship with China is going through a "very difficult phase" but recent discussions have yielded positive results in terms of easing the flow of logistics during the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday.
During a virtual session here, Jaishankar was asked about India-China relations and the outcome of his recent discussions with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
"The last conversation was significantly focussed on the COVID pandemic and my discussions were essentially that COVID is something bigger and it is in our mutual interest to work together to deal with it and that's what Foreign Minister Wang Yi told me as well," said Jaishankar.
The minister said Indian companies ordering supplies from China were encountering difficulties and his message to the Chinese minister had been that the best support they could offer would be to ease that process.
"After our conversation, things did move. Some of our airlines immediately got their approvals. The chain is flowing, which is very laudable," he said.
On the wider India-China relationship, the minister said a disengagement process remains ongoing but is yet to reach the desired de-escalation point at the border.
He said: "The relationship right now is going through a very difficult phase, because in violation of agreements and understandings of many, many years the Chinese have deployed a very large part of their military on and close to the Line of Actual Control without explanation.
"They continue to be there now for a year. And, their actions have disturbed peace and tranquility in the border areas. We saw bloodshed there last June after 45 years."
The minister said India has been very clear that peace and tranquility in the border areas is absolutely essential for a good relationship with the neighbouring country.
"I can't have friction, coercion, intimidation and bloodshed on the border and then say let's have a good relationship in other domains. It's not realistic. That is something we have maintained and been discussing with the Chinese. We have made some progress in some areas, the disengagement process, and in some areas it's still an ongoing discussion, he said.
"But we haven't come to the de-escalation part of it, which will follow only after disengagement is done, he added.
India and China were locked in military standoff at multiple friction points in eastern Ladakh since early May last year but they have completed withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong Lake in February following a series of military and diplomatic talks. The two sides are now engaged in talks to extend the disengagement process to the remaining friction points.
Jaishankar is in the UK to participate in the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers Meeting as a guest minister.
The Global Dialogue Series, organised by UK-based media house India Inc. Group and the Indian High Commission in London on Wednesday, was transformed from a hybrid to a virtual event after members of the Indian delegation tested positive for COVID-19. It has led to the Cabinet minister's remaining UK engagements, including his G7 meetings, taking on a virtual form.
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