Srinagar, August 20: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said India and China agreed to work towards complete disengagement of troops along LAC in the western sector and to expeditiously resolve outstanding issues during the border mechanism meeting.
“They reaffirmed that in accordance with agreements reached between foreign ministers, the sides will continue to work towards complete disengagement along LAC in western sector. They agreed to resolve outstanding issues expeditiously, according to existing agreements, protocols,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
This was the fourth meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) since tensions erupted early May. The tension escalated after the violent face-off in Galwan Valley on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The Chinese side also suffered casualties.
The MEA further said that both sides acknowledged the need to maintain close communication through diplomatic and military channels to ensure complete disengagement. The end-goal for India remains the restoration of status quo ante as of April even as the Army is preparing for the long haul with winter nearing.
“The two sides (India and China) were in agreement that restoration of peace, tranquillity in border areas would be essential for the overall development of bilateral relations. They agreed to continue ongoing engagements, including WMCC meetings,” the MEA said.
In addition to the border mechanism meetings, five rounds of Corp-Commander level meetings, a phone conversation and a meeting between the two Special Representatives, two meetings of the Indian Ambassador to China with top party and military officials, and several division and brigade commander level meetings have taken place during this period.
An official has said following the fourth round of Corps Commander level meeting on July 14, there has been no further movement from the Chinese side on the ground and the situation remains tense.
“After the July 14 meeting, China has added more troops and equipment to all three sections at Depsang and Trig Heights, across PP14 at its base camp, across Hot Springs and Gogra, same at Pangong Tso north and south banks, same at Fukche, and doubled across Chumar and Demchok. There are reports that PLA is building infrastructure at breakneck speed,” the official said.
A senior military officer said there has been no new major additional Chinese deployment on the LAC “in the past couple of weeks,” and the PLA strength “remains at around three divisions plus, along with a Special Forces brigade”. The Indian deployment, the officer said, is commensurate with the Chinese deployment Indian Express reported.