The situation between India and China in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh is fragile and dangerous, with military forces deployed very close to each other in some parts, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday.
Violence erupted in the eastern sector of the border between the nuclear-armed Asia giants in December but did not result in any deaths.
"The situation to my mind still remains very fragile because there are places where our deployments are very close up and in military assessment therefore quite dangerous," Jaishankar said at an India Today conclave.
India-China relations cannot go back to normal, he said, until the border row is resolved in line with the September 2020 in-principal agreement he reached with his Chinese counterpart.
This is also the first time Jaishankar has used such strong language to describe the India-China situation at the LAC where the Chinese have matched a build-up of around 60,000 Indian troops in proximity. He has earlier called it “unstable” or “abnormal”.
Sources in the government said Jaishankar’s use of the word “dangerous” is deliberate given the aggressive posture adopted by the Chinese, as assessed by the Indian military, and also the geo-political circumstances arising out of Xi Jinping’s rare third term as the Chinese President.
He said the Chinese violated the agreements in 2020 and “the consequences of it were seen in Galwan Valley and other areas”. “We have deployed our troops, we have stood our ground and the situation to my mind still remains very fragile because there are places where our deployments are very close up and in military assessment, actually therefore, quite dangerous,” he said.
Jaishankar said he discussed the situation with China's new foreign minister, Qin Gang, on the sidelines of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the G20 nations hosted by India this month.