The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that India and China must focus on easing border tensions in Ladakh and called on the neighbouring country to not make unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the region.

“There was consensus between the ministers of the two sides, during both the meetings, that there should be quick and complete disengagement of troops from all friction areas along the LAC,” foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a press briefing. “Both sides should, therefore, focus on easing tensions in the friction areas by refraining from any actions that may lead to an escalation in the situation. This requires strict adherence to the bilateral agreements and protocols and not making unilateral attempts to change the status quo.”

Srivastava said that China must “sincerely” work with India to de-escalate tensions and disengage in all disputed areas, including Pangong Tso. His comments came hours after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told the Rajya Sabha that China continues to illegally occupy approximately 38,000 square kilometre of land in Ladakh.

Tensions between India and China flared up after the June 15 clash in Galwan Valley in Ladakh, when 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed. Military heads of the two countries have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last three months but little progress has been achieved.

The border situation escalated again this month. The Ministry of External Affairs had said on September 1 that Chinese troops engaged in “provocative action” in Ladakh on August 31. Less than a week later, China accused India of “outrageously firing warning shots” in a new confrontation on the southern bank of Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh. India denied the accusation.

On September 10, India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. The two ministers agreed on a five-point plan to defuse tensions between the countries and said the current situation in the border areas of Ladakh was “not in the interest of either side”. They agreed, therefore, that the border troops of both sides should “continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”.