India cautious after border dispute review with China

File Photo: India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

By Amit Agnihotri

New Delhi: India today said it agreed with China to resolve the conflict on the Line of Actual Control conflict in Ladakh expeditiously as per existing agreements, in a guarded response to the outcome of the diplomatic talks held earlier in the day.

“They (diplomats of China and India) agreed to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner and in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols. The two sides were in agreement that restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas would be essential for the overall development of bilateral relations,” India’s Minister of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

India’s response came after the 18th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), held through video conferencing, to review the deadlock in the disengagement process in eastern Ladakh along the de facto borders that has continued for months now, as China has refused to vacate areas in Finger 4 on the north banks of Pangong Tso and in the Depsang plains.

Over the past weeks, China has shown little inclination towards resolving the Ladakh border face off, which is now over 100 days old, though it initially implemented a mutually-agreed disengagement of troops after the two Special Representatives on the India-China border issue, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, spoke to each other on July 5.

Since May, troops of both the countries are facing each other in a confrontation that has worried the world powers. The dispute arose after China’s People’s Liberation Army unilaterally tried to change the LAC. India’s attempts to stop the PLA aggression resulted in the deadly June 15 clashes in which 20 Indian soldiers died and unconfirmed reports said the PLA too suffered 40 casualties.

That single incident plunged the India-China ties to a historic low and resulted in distrust between the two countries who have held several rounds of talks through military commanders and diplomats. Over the past weeks, India bluntly told China that peace on the border was directly linked to relations between the two countries and that nothing short of a full disengagement of troops was acceptable to it. But China’s stubbornness has continued.

Srivastava said the two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the existing situation in the India-China border areas during the 18th WMCC meeting. The diplomats reaffirmed that in accordance with the agreements reached between India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar and Wang Yi on June 17, the two countries will continue to sincerely work towards complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC in the western sector.

During the WMCC meet, the two sides further acknowledged the need to maintain close communication through both the diplomatic and military channels so as to ensure complete disengagement. The Indian delegation was led by India’s Joint Secretary (East Asia) in 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.

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