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EAM Dr S. Jaishankar attends the signing ceremony of Concession Agreement for 600 MW Kholongchhu JV-Hydroelectric Project in Bhutan, via video conference in New Delhi on Monday. This will lead to the commencement of construction of this first joint venture hydroelectric project between India and Bhutan. (ANI Photo)
EAM Dr S. Jaishankar attends the signing ceremony of Concession Agreement for 600 MW Kholongchhu JV-Hydroelectric Project in Bhutan, via video conference in New Delhi on Monday. This will lead to the commencement of construction of this first joint venture hydroelectric project between India and Bhutan. (ANI Photo)

'A work in progress': S Jaishankar on disengagement process along LAC

S Jaishankar was speaking on the last of the three day India Global Week 2020 event.

The disengagement process underway between the troops of India and China along their Line of Actual Control border is “very much a work in progress," Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday.

Jaishankar was speaking on the last of the three day India Global Week 2020 event.

“We have agreed on the need to disengage because the troops on both sides are deployed very close to each other. So there is a disengagement and de-escalation process which has been agreed upon. It has just commenced. It is very much work in progress. So at this point I would not like to say anything more than that," Jaishankar said in response to a question on tensions along the 3,488 kilometre India-China border. The tensions that have been high since early May were exacerbated by a brutal clash between Indian and Chinese troops on 15 June in which 20 Indian army personnel and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers were killed.

Both sides have pulled back troops from their previous position of close proximity to each other and established buffer zones at three places of friction in Ladakh, according to people familiar with the matter. But there are still tens of thousands of troops deployed in areas close to the border alongwith tanks, artillery and air support causing tensions to stay high despite the pullback. Chinese troops have also moved back in little in the more complicated Pangong Tso lake area but analysts say getting the Chinese troops to vacate all the area they have encroached upon on the banks of the lake would be extremely challenging and possibly require many rounds of conversations between military commanders, diplomats and senior officials of the two countries. Senior commanders of the Indian and Chinese military are to hold talks next week to discuss the second phase of the withdrawal as well as a further retreat by Chinese troops along the banks of the Pangong Tso lake.

In his comments, Jaishankar also spoke of his perception of a post-covid-19 world in which he said would be a more “difficult" one with issues of trust between countries getting sharpened. This, he said, would be accompanied by a rise in nationalism in countries leading to the “acceleration of a trend seen before" the outbreak of pandemic.

“My sense there is a lot of the trends that we saw before the coronavirus, they could well accelerate," Jaishankar said. “What we have seen the last six months for example (is that) we have seen a lot of countries behaving more nationalistically, people, frankly, looking out for themselves," he said.

“I understand it up to a point but I do see a world where many arguments will sharpen. I think there will be issues of trust that have been raised, there will questions on resilience of supply chains. So its going to be a more difficult world," the minister said.

The comments come against the backdrop of friction among countries especially China and the US on matters of trade and protectionism besides the cause of the spread of the covid-19 pandemic for which Washington has pointed the finger of blame at Beijing.

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