India, China agree to maintain LAC resolution dialogue

India, China agree to restart talks between military commanders to end stand-off

Diplomats of two sides hold video-conference, agree to maintain syability, avoid flashpoints along LAC till stand-off is resolved

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The senior military commanders of India and China will meet once again soon to work out a deal to end the 14-month-long stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) soon, the diplomats of the two sides agreed during a video conference on Friday.

Even as the soldiers of the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are still engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball stand-off along the disputed boundary between the two nations in eastern Ladakh, New Delhi and Beijing agreed to avoid further escalation till both sides could clinch a deal for a mutual withdrawal of front-line troops from all the remaining face-off points along the LAC.

India’s delegation for the video conference was led by Naveen Srivastava, the Additional Secretary at the East Asia Division of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Hong Liang, the Director-General of the Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Government, led the delegation of the communist country.

The two sides had a “frank exchange of views” on the situation along the LAC. They agreed on the need to find an early resolution to the remaining issues along the de facto boundary between the two neighbouring nations, keeping in view the agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in September 2020.

A spokesperson of the MEA in New Delhi stated that the two sides agreed to hold the next – the 12th – round of the meeting between the Senior Commanders of the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA meeting “at an early date” in order to “achieve the objective of complete disengagement from all the friction points along the LAC” in accordance with the “existing bilateral agreements and protocols”.

The senior commanders of the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA had on April 9 last held the 11th round of meeting but had failed to agree on withdrawal of the front-line troops from the remaining face-off points along the LAC. They had not even issued a joint press release after the meeting, unlike the previous few rounds of talks.

Though almost two-and-a-half months passed since the 11th meeting between the military commanders took place, New Delhi and Beijing could not schedule the 12th.

The video conference between Indian and Chinese diplomats on Friday was intended to break the deadlock. It was the 22nd round of consultation within the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), which the two nations set up in 2012 as an institutional mechanism to deal with the flashpoints along the disputed boundary between the two neighbouring nations.

The two sides activated the mechanism to resolve the stand-off along the LAC a year ago with a similar video conference on June 24, 2020.

The Indian Army and the Chinese PLA withdrew front-line troops from the northern and the southern banks of Pangong Tso in February, but they could not agree on disengagement from other face-off points along the LAC, like Hot Springs, Depsang and Gogra Post, over the past four months.

“The two sides will continue to work to further ease the situation on the border, avoid recurrence of the situation on the ground, and jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border area,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Government said in a statement released in Beijing after the video-conference.

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