India on Thursday reiterated that only early completion of disengagement in the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh could pave the way for both Indian and Chinese troops to consider de-escalation and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas. At a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said such a step could enable progress in bilateral relations between the two countries.
“I would like to reiterate that only early completion of disengagement in the remaining areas could pave the way for the two sides to consider de-escalation of forces and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquillity and enable progress on overall bilateral relations,” he said. India and China held a virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs last month as part of the dialogue process to resolve the standoff.
In the meeting, the two sides agreed to hold the next round of military talks at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement in remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh. “You would recall that the 22nd meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on the border was held on June 25. The two sides also agreed to hold the 12th round of senior commanders meeting at an early date. We will certainly share any update once we have that,” Bagchi said. The 11th round of Corps Commander-level talks between the two sides on the border row was held on April 9. India and China were locked in a military standoff at multiple friction points in eastern Ladakh since early May last year. However, the two sides completed the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong lake in February following a series of military and diplomatic talks.
The two sides are now engaged in talks to extend the disengagement process to the remaining friction points. There was no visible forward movement in disengagement of troops in the remaining friction points as the Chinese side did not show flexibility in their approach on it at the 11th round of military talks.
Last month, Army Chief Gen MM Naravane said that there can be no de-escalation without complete disengagement at all friction points in eastern Ladakh and that the Indian Army is prepared for all contingencies in the region. Gen Naravane also said that India is dealing with China in a “firm” and “non-escalatory” manner to ensure the sanctity of its claims in eastern Ladakh and that it was even open to initiating confidence-building measures.
India has been insisting on complete disengagement in remaining friction points to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ladakh.