Talks between Indian and Chinese diplomats Thursday could not achieve a breakthrough to resolve the military standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, and New Delhi said the two sides will “continue to sincerely work towards complete disengagement” of troops.
This was the fourth meeting via videoconference of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) since the standoff began early May.
The Chinese reluctance to step back from Pangong Tso, where its troops continue to occupy the ridgeline at Finger 4, and the Gogra-Hot Springs area has stalled the disengagement process despite diplomatic and military talks.
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Unlike statements of the last three WMCC meetings, there was no reference to “progress” or “disengagement process” in the Indian statement Thursday. Nor was there any mention of “early and complete disengagement” which was there the last time.
Beijing, however, said it “positively evaluated the progress made in the disengagement of the front-line forces of the two countries” and agreed to “conscientiously implement the consensus” reached between the two sides.
Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said the two sides had a “candid and in-depth” exchange of views on the existing 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 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,” he said.
Srivastava said the two 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.
At the WMCC meetings, Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs, leads the Indian team. The Chinese are led by Hong Liang, Director General, Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Chinese embassy in New Delhi, in a statement, said, “The two sides reviewed the recent situation in the border areas between China and India, positively evaluated the progress made in the disengagement of the front-line forces of the two countries, exchanged candid and in-depth views on the remaining issues on the ground, and enhanced mutual understanding.”
“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 tranquility in the border areas,” it said.
Last week, India’s Ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, had reached out to China’s Central Military Commission and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in a bid to resolve the deadlock.
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