The Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday India and China were maintaining military and diplomatic engagements to peacefully resolve the border row at the earliest even though it did not respond to reports on troops moving back from standoff positions in the Galwan and Hot Spring areas of Ladakh.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said both sides had agreed to work for an early resolution to the issue in keeping with broader guidance provided by leaders of the two countries for ensuring peace and tranquillity along the border areas.
“A meeting was held between core commanders of India and China on June 6. This meeting was in continuation of our diplomatic and military engagement which both sides maintained in order to address the situation in areas along the India-China border,” Srivastava said in a media briefing.
On June 6, XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District Commander Major General Liu Lin held a meeting at the Chushul-Moldo border point for nearly three hours before delegations were brought in.
The two sides also held Major General-level talks, which lasted over four hours, on Wednesday. Sources said the Indian side pressed for restoration of status quo ante, reiterating that troops should move back to the positions held in April-end, before the standoff began. The Indian side also sought reduction in the number of Chinese troops in the region.
“The two sides are, therefore, maintaining military and diplomatic engagements to peacefully resolve the situation at the earliest and also to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas. This is essential for further development of India-China bilateral relations,” the MEA spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed that the two sides were taking steps to “ease” the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) when asked about reports of troops disengaging and moving back to their previous positions.
“Recently, the diplomatic and military channels of China and India held effective communication on the situation along the border and reached positive consensus. The two sides are following this consensus to take actions to ease the situation along the borders,” the spokesperson said.
From the Indian side, officials cautioned that this should be seen as a “first step” towards a long, phased and gradual process of disengagement, and there should be no expectation of immediate or quick withdrawal of troops and weaponry.
The disengagement process may take weeks. “Physical verification as well as satellite imagery will help us in complete disengagement,” sources told The Indian Express.
While troops are stepping back in other areas, the standoff continues in the contested Fingers area on the north bank of Pangong Tso where Chinese troops are not allowing Indian patrols beyond Finger 4 – it is 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says denotes the LAC.
Sources also said that the Army is “fully prepared for a long and permanent deployment if the PLA does not retreat”.