As New Delhi claims that both India and China will “continue to sincerely work towards complete disengagement” of armed forces personnel, the fourth round of talks aimed at resolving the military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, yielded no results.
This meeting, according to a report by The Indian Express, held on August 18, was the fourth meeting via videoconference of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on the India-China border Affairs (WMCC), since the standoff began in early May.
Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs, leads the Indian team at the WMCC meetings and on another side, Hong Liang, Director General, Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leads the meeting.
The tensions between the two countries escalated after 20 Indian armed forces personnel were killed following a violent clash with Chinese troops along the LAC in the Galwan Valley, in June 2020.
Despite the commander level military talks, China’s disinclination to step back from the Pangong Tso has obstructed the disengagement process.
On Thursday, as India released a statement following the talks, there was no reference to “progress” or “disengagement process” contrary to the previous WMCC meetings.
The report added that there was not any mention of “early and complete disengagement” which was there the last time.
Beijing, on the other hand, claimed to have positively evaluated the progress made in the disengagement of the frontline forces of the two countries and agreed to “conscientiously implement the consensus” reached between the two sides.
Anurag Srivastava, the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs India, said that the two sides had a “candid and in-depth” discussion on the ongoing situation in the India-China border areas.
“They reaffirmed that in accordance with the agreements reached between the two Foreign Ministers and the two Special Representatives (SRs), the two sides will continue to sincerely work towards complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control in the western sector,” he said in a statement.
“In this context, they agreed to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner and in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols. The two sides were in agreement that restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas would be essential for the overall development of bilateral relations,” Srivastava added.
The spokesman believes that both the sides acknowledged the “need to maintain close communication through both the diplomatic and military channels so as to ensure complete disengagement”.
“In this regard, they also agreed to continue their ongoing engagements including through the meetings of the WMCC,” he said.
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi said that the two sides “evaluated” the recent situation in the border areas and exchanged “candid and in-depth” views on the remaining issues on the ground. They claim to have enhanced mutual understanding as well.
“The two sides agreed to conscientiously implement the consensus reached between the two foreign ministers and the Special Representatives on China-India boundary question, continue to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, further cool down the border situation, properly handle the remaining issues on the ground, and jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” the statement said.
India’s Ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, had reportedly reached out to China’s Military Commission and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China last week offering to settle the matter.
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