India and China on Wednesday emphasised the need to strengthen communication, especially between the ground commanders in a fresh round of diplomatic talks held on Wednesday.
The Wednesday talks took place amid a war of words between the two sides on perception of the LAC, the de-facto Sino-India border spanning a length of nearly 3,500 km. The virtual talks were held under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs.
The talks were focussed on implementing the five-point agreement reached between the two countries to resolve the nearly five-month-long border standoff in eastern Ladakh.
At the meeting, the two sides reached a five-point agreement that included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary (East Asia) from the Ministry of External Affairs. The Director General of the Boundary & Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the Chinese delegation.
The two sides reviewed the current situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China border areas and had detailed discussions on the developments since the last meeting of the WMCC on August 20, 2020, an Indian readout on the talks said.
The Ministry of External Affairs said, in a statement, that the two sides attached importance to the meetings between the two defence ministers and the two foreign ministers held earlier this month. They also noted that the agreement between the two foreign ministers should be sincerely implemented to ensure disengagement at all the friction points along the LAC.
In this regard, the two sides positively evaluated the outcome of the sixth Senior Commanders meeting on September 21, the statement added. They emphasised the need to implement the steps outlined in the joint press release issued after the last meeting of the senior commanders so as to avoid misunderstandings and to maintain stability on the ground.
Both sides also agreed that the next (seventh) round of the meeting of Senior Commanders at an early date so that both sides can work towards early and complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC in accordance with the existing bilateral agreement and protocols, and fully restore peace and tranquility.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson recently insisted that China abides by the LAC as proposed by then Premier Zhou Enlai to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in a letter dated November 7, 1959.
In a sharp reaction, India on Tuesday categorically rejected China’s “so-called unilaterally defined” LAC of 1959, and asked the neighbouring country to refrain from advancing an “untenable” interpretation of the de-facto border.
The Indian government also reminded China that its insistence there is only “one LAC” is contrary to the solemn commitments made by Beijing in previous bilateral agreements, and expected it will “sincerely” abide by them in their entirety.
On the basis of the understanding reached between Jaishankar and Wang, the two sides held a nearly 14-hour-long Corps commander-level talks on September 21 following which they announced a slew of decisions to de-escalate the situation.
The decisions included to stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters.
It was for the first time that the two armies announced specific measures to ease tensions in eastern Ladakh where the face-off began in early May.