The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that the core concern in the border standoff between India and China was the need to strictly adhere to bilateral agreements to maintain peace along the Line of Actual Control, PTI reported.
Foreign ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava made the remark at a press briefing, in response to a question on a United States commission’s report on the Galwan Valley clash in June.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s report to the Congress on December 1 said that the Chinese government had planned the clash “potentially including the possibility for fatalities”. Twenty Indian soldiers and an unconfirmed number of Chinese troops were killed in the clash.
“I would stress that the core issue remains that both sides need to strictly follow the various bilateral agreements and protocols in their entirety including the 1993 and 1996 agreement on maintenance of peace and tranquility along the LAC [Line of Actual Control],” Srivastava was quoted as saying by the news agency.
The foreign ministry spokesperson informed the media that India and China had agreed to another round of military talks but did not provide more details. “As we have conveyed earlier, the two sides continue to maintain communication through diplomatic and military channels with the objective of ensuring complete disengagement in all friction points along the LAC in the Western sector and full restoration of peace and tranquility,” he said. “Both sides have agreed to have another round of Senior Commanders meeting at an appropriate time. As and when we have more information, we will share it with you.”
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The two countries had held the eighth round of Corps Commander-Level talks on November 6. They agreed to ensure that their troops exercise restraint and avoid any misunderstanding and miscalculation along the LAC. The discussion, however, remained inconclusive.
China and India have been engaged in a border standoff in the eastern Ladakh region since May. The tensions along the Line of Actual Control started with initial scuffles that led to a pitched battle – without firearms – in June that saw 20 Indian soldiers killed. Beijing, however, refused to release casualty numbers on its side. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years.
Military heads of the two countries have engaged in several rounds of talks over the last few months but they have failed to break the impasse.
On September 10, External Affairs Minister 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”.
In October, Beijing had said that it did not recognise Indian sovereignty over Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh and claimed that India had illegally occupied the region. In response, the Ministry of External Affairs said China has no locus standi to comment on the matter. The ministry said Ladakh as well as Arunachal Pradesh are integral parts of India and this has been conveyed to the Chinese side on many occasions.