New Delhi: India and China today agreed that ensuring peace between the two nations was the end state to be achieved in their bilateral relations so that there is no future military confrontation on the borders, as witnessed in Ladakh for the last 65 days now.
At a bilateral diplomatic meeting between the two sides, the Indian and Chinese diplomats at the Joint Secretary level reaffirmed that both their militaries would ensure “complete disengagement” of the soldiers along the borders in eastern Ladakh.
The two nations were discussing peace and tranquility in the border areas at the 16th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (MWCC) through video conferencing.
While the Indian side was headed by Joint Secretary (East Asia) from the Ministry of External Affairs while the Director General of the Boundary and Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the Chinese delegation.
“The two sides recalled the agreement reached between the foreign ministers of the two nations on June 17 as well as the agreement between two Special Representatives (SRs) for boundary talks during their telephonic conversation on July 5,” a statement from the MEA said.
The two delegations also “reaffirmed that both sides will ensure complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols,” it said.
“They also agreed that for the overall development of bilateral relations it was essential to maintain enduring peace and tranquility in the border areas.”
During the discussion, the two sides reviewed the situation in the India-China border areas including the progress made in ongoing disengagement process along the LAC in the western sector.
They agreed that it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understandings reached between the corps commanders of Indian and Chinese armies in their three rounds of talks held on June 6, 22 and 30.
“As agreed by the two Special Representatives, the senior (military) commanders will meet soon to discuss further steps so as to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation in a timely manner,” the statement said.
“The two sides also agreed to maintain the ongoing communication both at the diplomatic and military level to ensure early resolution of the situation. In this context they agreed to hold another meeting of the WMCC in the near future.”
The military commanders — Indian Army‘s 14 ‘Fire and Fury‘ Corps Commander Lieutenant General Harinder Singh and China’s South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin — are to meet next week to discuss the implementation of the three-stage military withdrawal plan from the 1,500-km LAC in Ladakh.
Fortunately for the two armies, peace has prevailed in the Ladakh region since the June 22 talks between the corps commanders of India and China.
The efforts at disengagement and fall back by the two armies based on the agreement between the two military commanders on June 6 had been disrupted after the soldiers of the two nations came to blows and hit each other with metal rods and sticks spiked with nails at the Galwan Valley on June 15.
That clash left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an undisclosed number of Chinese personnel, though Beijing has admitted to casualties on its side too.
While disengagement has been achieved by the two armies in three of the four locations at Patrolling Points 14, 15 and 17 in Galwan Valley and Hot Springs has been in progress and is reaching the state of de-escalation — the first two stages before the third stage of de-induction or de-mobilisation takes place.
At the most difficult location on the Finger 4 ridge, as previously reported, Chinese soldiers stay put, though they have moved back some of their equipment and vehicles from the Pongong Tso (lake) north banks to the Finger 5 location.
Indian Army officers said they expect to achieve complete de-escalation in about a month’s time in the first three locations before the de-mobilisation happens there, while they are waiting for the Chinese side to complete the first stage of disengagement at the Finger 4 area.
“Once the Finger 4 area disengagement happens, we would have to look at how the Chinese move back to their original positions beyond Finger 8” towards the eastern direction on the boomerang-shaped Pongong lake, the officers said.