India, China standoff ‘unprecedented’, have to sit down to find a solution: Jaishankar

EAM S Jaishankar

New Delhi (NVI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today said that the India-China border faceoff is an “unprecedented situation” and both sides need to sit down to find a solution.

While speaking at the informal meeting of SAARC council of ministers tiday, Jaishankar said that the months-long border standoff between India and China is “one facet of a larger phenomenon for which both have to sit down and find a solution”.

The meeting, chaired by Nepal, was held in virtual mode and saw the participation of all SAARC member states, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

These were the first comments by Jaishankar on the India-China border tensions since his meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Moscow earlier this month.

The two foreign ministers had met in Moscow in early September on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting hosted by Russia.

Apart from that, the meeting held today received a report from the Secretary-General on the status of regional cooperation since the last informal meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers in New York on 26th September 2019.

The meeting reviewed regional efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, participants appreciated the leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India in convening a video conference of SAARC Leaders on 15th March 2020 to take collaborative measures towards combating the pandemic across the region. This included the creation of SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, to which all countries have pledged voluntary contributions.

Jaishankar, in his statement, reiterated India’s steadfast commitment to SAARC in building a connected, integrated, secure and prosperous South Asia.

He highlighted a slew of measures taken by India in the follow-up to the SAARC Leaders video conference, including virtually convening health professionals and trade officials meetings, creating a ‘COVID-19 Information Exchange Platform (COINEX), foreign currency swap support and activation of SAARC Food Bank mechanism.

Jaishankar informed that under India’s contribution to SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, supply of essential drugs, medical consumables, COVID protection and testing kits, and other equipment, amounting USD 2.3 million, were made available to countries in the SAARC region. He reiterated India’s continued commitment to assisting countries in the SAARC region in combating COVID-19 pandemic, MEA said in a statement.

The EAM also called upon SAARC member states to collectively resolve to defeat the scourge of terrorism, including the forces that nurture, support and encourage an environment of terror and conflict, which impede the objective of SAARC to realize its full potential for collective collaboration and prosperity across South Asia.