India wants to improve its relations with China but it can be possible only when there is peace and tranquillity in the border areas, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.

“If there is any expectation that somehow we will normalise [the ties] when the border situation is not normal, that’s not a well-founded expectation,” Jaishankar said during a press briefing.

Ties between India and China have remained strained since the militaries of the two countries clashed in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June 2020. Tensions had flared at multiple friction points, with both countries stationing tens of thousands of troops backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash, while China had put the number of casualties on its side at four. The two countries have been locked in a border row since then.

Tensions between the two countries escalated once again two years later on December 9, after Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh. New Delhi said that the clash took place after Chinese soldiers attempted to change the status quo at the Line of Actual Control.

On Thursday, Jaishankar said that India and China will have to find ways to disengage their troops, adding that the current impasse is not in the interest of Beijing either.

On a question of whether China has occupied any Indian territory, Jaishankar said that it is a problem of forward deployment of troops.

“The forward deployment of troops very close to each other by both sides is the main issue and not any possible occupation of land,” he said.

The foreign minister also said that tensions due to such forward deployments can lead to violence such as the incident in Galwan Valley. Jaishankar added that India’s ties with all the leading countries and key groupings are on an upswing, except with China.

On being asked why, he said: “That answer can only be given by China. Because China consciously for some reason chose in 2020 to break agreements to move forces to the border areas and seek to coerce us.”

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