New Delhi: India and China Friday held yet another round of talks under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs, ThePrint has learnt. The talks come amid reports that the disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh has slowed down.
The Indian delegation was led by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) joint secretary for East Asia, while China was represented by the director general of the foreign ministry’s boundary and oceanic department, an official statement issued by New Delhi said.
“The two sides reviewed the situation in the India-China border areas and the ongoing disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector. They agreed that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas in accordance with bilateral agreement and protocols and full restoration of peace and tranquillity was essential for smooth overall development of bilateral relations,” the MEA added.
According to the MEA, it was also agreed that another meeting of senior commanders may be held soon to work out “further steps to ensure expeditiously complete” disengagement and de-escalation and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
The WMCC meeting Friday, sources said, was held because China is “not fully cooperating” with the Indian side, thus causing the disengagement and de-escalation process to deviate from the agreement arrived at during the 5 July phone call between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The Chinese side is maintaining a heavy troop deployment in the entire eastern Ladakh sector, sources added. The weaponry deployed includes air defence systems and long-range artillery.
Sources said the de-escalation process in the Hot Springs and Gogra area is not progressing as desired.
If the pace of the disengagement and de-escalation process continues to be like this, sources said, Doval and Wang, who are also the designated Indian and Chinese special representatives for boundary talks, may have to hold one more round of discussions.
The WMCC is one of the India-China bilateral frameworks to resolve border tensions.
‘Earliest complete disengagement’
During their discussions earlier this month, Doval and Wang had agreed on “earliest complete disengagement”.
The talks set the stage for a fresh attempt at disengagement in Ladakh beginning 6 July.
However, since the plan didn’t appear to be going as expected, the latest WMCC meeting was organised to discuss the modalities, sources said. The previous round of WMCC talks was held just two weeks ago, on 10 July, following which India and China held a Corps commander-level dialogue at the border on 14 July, the fourth such interaction since bilateral tensions soared amid incursions by Chinese soldiers beginning May.
At a media briefing Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said a WMCC meeting will be held soon, adding that the basis of maintaining peace and tranquillity in the border areas between India and China is “respecting and strictly abiding” by the LAC.
“As we have stated earlier, the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas is the basis of our bilateral relationship. Therefore, it is our expectation that the Chinese side will sincerely work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas at the earliest as agreed to by the special representatives,” Srivastava added.
This report has been updated with the MEA’s statement