India and China on Wednesday held diplomatic talks in person in New Delhi and discussed proposals to disengage in an “open and open manner” from the remaining friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that both sides agreed to hold the 19th round of high-level military talks at the earliest to achieve the objective of restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas. The meeting took place under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).
Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a more than three-year-long confrontation at some friction points in eastern Ladakh, even as both sides completed disengagement from several areas after extensive diplomatic and military talks.
It added, “Both sides reviewed the situation along the LAC in the western sector of the India-China border areas and discussed proposals for disengagement in the remaining areas in an open and open manner.” “Restoration of peace will create conditions for normalization of bilateral relations,” the foreign ministry said.
Agreed to hold next (19th) round of meeting
“To achieve this objective, they agreed to hold the next (19th) round of senior commanders’ meeting at the earliest, in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and protocols,” the statement said.
The MEA said both sides agreed to continue discussions through military and diplomatic channels.
Significantly, this was the 27th meeting of WMCC. The last meeting of the WMCC was held in Beijing on 22 February. The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary (East Asia), Ministry of External Affairs. The Chinese side was led by the Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The 18th round of high-level military talks between the two sides was held on April 23, during which they agreed to remain in close contact and find a mutually acceptable solution to the outstanding issues in eastern Ladakh at the earliest. A few days later, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu visited India to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting. On the sidelines of the SCO meeting, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with Li for about 45 minutes.
In the talks, Singh told his Chinese counterpart that China’s violation of existing boundary agreements has “undermined” the entire basis of relations between the two countries and all boundary-related issues should be resolved as per the existing agreements. On May 4, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang the importance of resolving the eastern Ladakh border row and ensuring peace along the LAC for the development of bilateral relations.
A day after the talks, Jaishankar told a media briefing that the situation along the border in eastern Ladakh was “abnormal” and that India-China relations could not normalize if there was a breach of peace in the border areas.
The standoff on the eastern Ladakh border started on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area. Relations between the two countries took a nosedive after the fierce clashes in the Galwan Valley in June 2020, which marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades. As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake and in the Gogra area.
(With inputs from PTI)