India confirms Khurshid visit to China

With India and China agreeing to restore the status quo ante along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to end the three-week-long stand-off at Depsang Bulge in Ladakh, New Delhi on Monday sought to bring its ties with the Communist country back on course, formally announcing External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing from Thursday.

The Ministry of External Affairs stated that Khurshid would pay an official visit to China on May 9-10 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. The two ministers are expected to lay the ground for the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s maiden visit to India later this month.

Official announcement

Beijing had last Friday officially announced Indian External Affairs Minister’s upcoming visit to China. Khurshid himself had earlier told journalists that he would visit Beijing on May 9. New Delhi, however, refrained from making an official announcement, indicating that the visit might even be called off if China did not pull back its troops from the Depsang Bulge, which India claims to be on its side of the disputed Line of Actual Control.

“The Governments of India and China have agreed to restore status quo ante along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector of the India-China boundary as it existed prior to April 15, 2013,” stated Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson of the MEA, in New Delhi on Monday. “Flag meetings have been held to work out the modalities and to confirm the arrangements.”

Though intense diplomatic contacts between New Delhi and Beijing over the past 20 days resulted in a breakthrough on Saturday, New Delhi did not reveal the details of the negotiation. Sources in the Government, however, dismissed speculation that New Delhi and Beijing had struck ‘a deal’ and India had acceded to some demands by China to make the latter withdraw its troops.

Sources said that the two sides had only agreed to restore the status quo ante, while continuing engagements to ensure peace and tranquillity along the LAC.

A platoon of soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and paramilitary People’s Armed Police Force had on April 15 last transgressed the LAC, set up tents at Depsang Bulge and stayed put. India claimed that the place where the PLA and PAPF soldiers set up the camp was 19 km inside its territory from the LAC. New Delhi also deployed soldiers of Indian Army and paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police just adjacent to the Chinese camp – resulting in “a face-to-face situation” as defined in the November 29, 1996 Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the military field along the LAC in the India-China Border Areas.

Official sources said that intense diplomatic efforts led by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and India’s Ambassador to China S Jaishankar had resolved the situation on Saturday.

Sources in New Delhi also said that India and China would continue consultations to find out ways to avert recurrences of such situations in future, while continuing to try to resolve the boundary dispute.

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