New Delhi: India and China Wednesday agreed to “expeditiously” resolve the fierce stand-off in eastern Ladakh that has gone on for over a month, two days after a meeting of corps commanders at the Line of Actual Control.
The move is yet another diplomatic attempt to implement the understanding reached on 6 June between corps commanders of the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army on disengagement.
Wednesday’s video-conference meeting was held between Naveen Srivastava, India’s joint secretary for east Asia, and Wu Jianghao, director general of the Department of Boundary & Oceanic Affairs, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The two sides discussed in detail the developments in the India-China border areas in particular the situation in eastern Ladakh. The Indian side conveyed its concerns on the recent developments in eastern Ladakh, including on the violent face-off in Galwan Valley area on 15 June that had resulted in casualties,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a release.
“In this regard, it was emphasised that both sides should strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control.”
Meeting under WMCC framework
Wednesday’s meeting took place under the aegis of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).
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”.
Both sides agreed that New Delhi and Beijing will follow what was agreed during a telephone conversation between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The ministers had agreed to “sincerely” implement the process of “disengagement and de-escalation” during the military commanders’ meeting.
“The two delegations agreed that implementation of this understanding expeditiously, in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols, would help ensure peace and tranquillity in border areas and the development of broader relationship between the two countries. In this context, they also took note of the discussions in the second meeting of the senior commanders held on 22 June,” the MEA release stated.
“The two sides also agreed to maintain communication both at diplomatic and military level including under the framework of WMCC to resolve the existing situation peacefully,” it added.
Deadly clash despite agreement
On 6 June, talks were held between the military commanders of India and China in the Chushul-Moldo region. The meeting was convened between Lt Gen. Harinder Singh, commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps who led the Indian delegation, and South Xinjiang Military District Commander Maj. Gen. Liu Lin, who represented the Chinese side.
This was preceded by diplomatic-level talks on 5 June.
However, despite these meetings, the two armies got embroiled in a violent face-off on the night of 15 June, in which Indian 20 soldiers were killed as China “wanted to unilaterally change the status quo on LAC”, according to the official Indian version.
On 22 June, a meeting lasting nearly 11 hours took place between Lt Gen. Singh and Maj. Gen. Liu, wherein India and China agreed on step-wise mutual disengagement from all areas where troops are standing eyeball-to-eyeball in the Ladakh sector of the LAC.
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