New Delhi: India and China are looking to leverage their five border agreements to find a “long-term settlement plan” that helps them avoid skirmishes until the boundary dispute is resolved, ThePrint has learnt.
The talks, sources said, will build on the “successful” dialogue between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and China Foreign Minister Wang Yi Sunday, which helped the two nations begin disengagement at several flashpoints along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh Monday. Doval and Wang also serve as India and China’s special representatives for border-related talks, and it’s in this capacity that they held last week’s dialogue.
India feels the five border agreements, signed between 1993 and 2013, can help avoid repeated skirmishes of the kind witnessed at Doklam in 2017 and in Ladakh since May. If the agreements are enforced properly, India believes, the Line of Actual Control will be “strictly” respected, and unilateral changes to the status quo can also be “challenged”.
Following the dialogue, sources said, New Delhi and Beijing have decided to push for the enforcement of bilateral border agreements “more seriously” even as they aim for complete disengagement in Ladakh.
“Right now, a lot of questions are being raised on the effectiveness of the border pacts because this is the first time when soldiers died on both sides of the boundary since 1975,” said an official, referring to the 15 June Galwan Valley clash.
“But these pacts are robust and have been arrived at after a lot of toil. So we need to enforce them more effectively than it has been before.”
Aiming for peace
The five pacts in question are: The 1993 Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas, the 1996 Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC, the 2005 Protocol on Modalities for the Implementation of the Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC, the 2012 Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, and 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement.
According to sources, the talks between Doval and Wang will be followed by a series of negotiations under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC) framework, which is one of the five agreements.
The WMCC framework, established in 2012, was activated last month in the pursuit of a solution as tensions flared at the border.
Sources said both sides will be aiming for a “long-term settlement plan” until they can completely settle the boundary issue.
On Monday, India and China began disengagement at multiple points along the LAC after months of tensions between the two Asian giants. While the border issue between the two countries is a longstanding one, the current tensions took relations to the lowest ebb in a long time after multiple soldiers on the two sides died during a clash last month in Galwan Valley.
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