The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said that India and China have agreed to an “early and complete” disengagement of the troops from the friction points in eastern Ladakh. The two countries reviewed the situation in the region during a fresh round of online diplomatic talks under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on border affairs.
This came even as reports suggested that China has not yet withdrawn its troops from all areas along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. Officials said that Chinese troops are still stationed at the Depsang Plains region, Gogra and the Fingers region along the Pangong Lake, where India and China had created a neutral zone.
In an official statement, the foreign ministry said the decision was made in accordance with the agreement reached between Special Representatives of the two countries on July 5. The disengagement between both India and China began after the phone conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on July 5.
“The two sides reviewed the situation in the India-China border areas and the ongoing disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector,” the ministry said. “They agreed that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control 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.”
Both India and China also agreed that another meeting of the Senior Commanders may be held soon to work out further steps to ensure “expeditiously complete disengagement and de-escalation”. “They agreed in this regard that it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understandings reached between Senior Commanders in their meetings till date,” the statement added.
Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh, along the Line of Control on June 15, during which, 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed. It was the worst assault between the two nations since 1967. Since then, four round of talks have been held between the commanders of the two armies to work out details of disengagement from the stand-off areas.
Progress has been made, says China
Meanwhile, a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry described the talks held on Friday as “candid and in-depth”, and claimed that both sides acknowledged the progress made in the disengagement process, according to the Hindustan Times. The statement, issued in Mandarin, added that New Delhi and Beijing will continue to hold both diplomatic and military talks to diffuse tensions along the Line of Actual Control.
“The two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the recent Sino-Indian border situation and fully affirmed the positive progress made by the front-line border defence forces of the two countries to disengage from contact and ease the situation on the ground,” the statement said. “The two sides agreed that they will continue to hold meetings on the China-India border affairs consultation and coordination mechanism and the commander-level meeting of the border defence forces of the two countries to strengthen the building of confidence in the border area and jointly maintain peace and tranquility in the border area.”
The meeting was co-chaired by joint secretary (East Asia) Naveen Srivastava of the external affairs ministry and Hong Liang, director general of the boundary and oceanic affairs department of China’s foreign ministry.