New Delhi: India and China will be holding a meeting under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs (WMCC) Wednesday when joint secretaries from both sides will discuss border issues, especially with regards to tensions at the Galwan Valley, ThePrint has learnt.
This is yet another attempt by both sides to seek a way out of the standoff continuing between the two sides since early May. As many as 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action in a violent face-off with Chinese troops on 15 June at the Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Top-level sources told ThePrint that while the meeting was being discussed when External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had a talk with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi over the telephone, the decision to hold the WMCC meeting Wednesday was finalised after the virtual Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral meeting that took place Tuesday.
A meeting under the WMCC, which was established in 2012, was last convened in January 2019 when both sides had agreed “on implementation of various confidence-building measures (CBMs) to enhance mutual trust and understanding”.
‘Mutual consensus to disengage’
According to sources, the understanding between both sides at the moment is that the disengagement and talks for a de-escalation will happen in a gradual and phased manner both at military and diplomatic levels.
While tensions between both countries have seen a major escalation, for the first time since 1975, neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor Chinese President Xi Jinping is keen for a confrontation, the sources added.
The message from the top leadership is clear for the troops and diplomats on both sides that de-escalation is the only way out, they said.
On 22 June, a meeting lasting nearly 11 hours took place between 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh and his Chinese counterpart Major General Lin Liu, commander of the South Xinjiang Military District.
During that meeting, India and China agreed on step-wise mutual disengagement from all areas where both troops are standing eyeball to eyeball in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“During the talks, the two sides, on the basis of the first commander-level talks, had an in-depth and candid exchange of views on outstanding issues in border management and control and agreed to take necessary measures to lower the temperature. Both agreed to keep up dialogue and work together for peace and tranquility on the ground along the border,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.
According to Army sources, the meeting between the commanders, which took place in Moldo, was held in a “cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere” and that there was a “mutual consensus to disengage”.
Anurag Srivastava, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, had announced last week that both New Delhi and Beijing are in talks to hold the WMCC meeting at an early date.
This was announced in the same week when India lost its 20 soldiers. Both sides have since then claimed that the Galwan river valley falls in their territory.
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