India and China on Friday agreed for an “early and complete” disengagement of the troops from the friction points in eastern Ladakh, holding that full restoration of peace and tranquility in border areas was essential for the overall development of bilateral relations.
The two countries reviewed the situation in the region during a fresh round of online diplomatic talks under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs.
The parleys took place against the backdrop of reports the military-level talks between India and China are running into a stalemate over the LAC issue in Ladakh even as a consensus was arrived at during the fourth the Corps Commander-level meet on July 14.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the two sides agreed at the Friday talks that another meeting of their senior army commanders may be held soon to work out further steps to ensure complete disengagement “expeditiously”.
“They agreed that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and de-escalation from India-China border areas in accordance with bilateral agreement and protocols and full restoration of peace and tranquility was essential for smooth overall development of bilateral relations,” it said in a statement.
The MEA said the two sides noted that this was in accordance with the agreement reached between the two Special Representatives during their telephonic conversation on July 5.
In Friday’s talks, the MEA said both sides agreed that it was necessary to “sincerely” implement the understandings reached between senior commanders in their meetings till date.
“The two sides agreed that another meeting of the Senior Commanders may be held soon so as to work out further steps to ensure expeditiously complete disengagement and de-escalation and restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas,” the MEA added.
In the wake of Chinese troops not complying with the roadmap for a complete pullback along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, India on Thursday forcefully reiterated that it will not accept any unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the border with China.
“India is fully committed to observing and respecting the LAC and that we will not accept any unilateral attempts to change the status quo along the LAC,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in his weekly briefing.
The spokesperson said, “Respecting and strictly abiding by the LAC is the basis of peace and tranquillity in the border areas. Several agreements concluded by India and China since 1993 firmly acknowledge this.”
The disengagement between India and China has reportedly hit a roadblock in eastern Ladakh as Chinese troops have not moved back from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in line with the consensus arrived at during the military-level talks between both the countries.
China is reportedly not complying with the roadmap for a complete pullback, which was drawn out during the Corps Commander-level meet on July 14. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops have not moved back.
The Indian security establishments said that the Chinese retreated a bit and then returned and therefore, there is a need for “constant verification” of the consensus achieved during the meetings between the Indian and Chinese military delegates.
Currently, both India and China are engaged in military and diplomatic deliberation to de-escalate the tense situation at the border areas. The countries are locked in a standoff that is over 10-week old, at multiple points, hitherto unprecedented along the border. The tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan valley on June 15.
On July 14, in a marathon meeting that lasted for almost 15 hours, the military delegates of India and China held deliberations on disengagement and de-escalation of troops and materials on their borders in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
This was the fourth Corps Commander-level meeting between 14 Corps Commander Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin, that took place on the lines of the one held at the Chushul-Moldo border personnel meeting (BPM) point in eastern Ladakh on June 6.
Meanwhile, on July 10, India and China had resolved to ensure complete disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquility between them in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols.
The reaffirmation came at the 16th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs (WMCC).
The two sides had then recalled the agreement reached between the two foreign ministers on 17 June as well as the agreement between two Special Representatives (SRs) during their telephonic conversation on 5 July.
The disengagement process between the two armies in the Galwan valley began on July 6 after a two-month military standoff.
The mutual agreement on disengagement came after a key phone call between Chinese Foreign Minister, State Councillor and Special Representative on the Sino-Indian Boundary Issue Wang Yi and Indian National Security Advisor and Special Representative Ajit Doval on July 5.
Both the countries noted that it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity and also agreed that the two sides should not allow differences to become disputes.