India, China to hold 12th round of talks

As stalemate persists at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with stand-offs continuing at some friction points, India and China on Thursday stressed the need for holding the 12th round of military level talks soon to find ways to de-escalate. They also agreed to maintain peace and prevent any untoward incident.

This was the main take-away from the diplomatic level talks held between the two countries under the aegis of the Working Mechanism, for Co-ordination and Consultation(WMCC).

The Indian delegation was led by Additional Secretary (East Asia) from the Ministry of External Affairs. The Director General of the Boundary and Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the Chinese delegation.

The talks were held at a time when the Chinese are reluctant to withdraw from three friction points including the Hot Springs, Gogra and the Depsang Valley. The Corps Commanders of the two armies held the last round in early April and since then there is no positive movement.  Incidentally, the last round of WMCC was held in March.

India has all along maintained that disengagement and de-escalation is a must for normalizing ties and maintaining peace and tranquility at the LAC.

In a statement issued after the WMCC talks on Thursday, the ministry of external affairs said here the two sides had a frank exchange of views on the situation along the LAC in the Western Sector of the India-China Border areas.

Both sides agreed on the need to find an early resolution to the remaining issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh keeping in view the agreement reached between the two Foreign Ministers in September 2020.

In this regard, the two sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through the diplomatic and military mechanisms to reach a mutually acceptable solution for complete disengagement from all friction points so as to ensure full restoration of peace and tranquility to enable progress in the bilateral relations. They also agreed that in the interim, the two sides will continue to ensure stability on the ground and prevent any untoward incident.

The two sides agreed to hold the next (12th) round of the Senior Commanders meeting at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement from all the friction points along the LAC in the Western Sector in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols, the ministry said.

So far, the two armies have disengaged and withdrawn from the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso(lake). The withdrawal took place in February after nearly ten months of face-off.  However, after that despite Corps Commander level talks, stand-offs continue at the Hot Springs, Gogra and the Depsang Valley.

China now wants that the military level talks should be held at the level of Major General and local commanders instead of the Corps Commander. The Indian security establishment is wary of this proposal and is weighing all the pros and cons before taking the next step.

At present, more than one lakh troops from both the sides are deployed at the LAC in Eastern Ladakh for the last one year when the face-offs began in May.

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