India, China dial down jaw-jaw over border


India and China Monday said their special representatives “had a frank and in-depth exchange of views on the recent developments in the Western Sector of the India-China border area”.

The development comes nearly three weeks after 20 Indian soldiers died and the People’s Liberation Army suffered an undisclosed number of casualties in a clash in Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh June 15.

Tensions have been high all along the two countries 2,000-plus mile border along the Himalayas, with both India and China reinforcing their troops.

According to a release from India’s ministry of external affairs, national security adviser Ajit Doval spoke on phone Sunday with China’s minister of foreign affairs Wang Yi.

“The two special representatives agreed that both sides should take guidance from the consensus of the leaders that maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas was essential for the further development of our bilateral relations and that two sides should not allow differences to become disputes,” the media statement from India said.

“Therefore, they agreed that it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity.

“In this regard they further agreed that both sides should complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously,”the statement continued.

“The two sides should also ensure a phased and stepwise de-escalation in the India-China border areas. They re-affirmed that both sides should strictly respect and observe the Line of Actual Control and should not take any unilateral action to alter the status quo and work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquillity in border areas.”

The two special representatives agreed, the statement said, that the diplomatic and military officials of the two sides should continue their discussions, “including under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC), and implement the understandings reached in a timely manner to achieve the above outcomes”.

It was also agreed, the statement said, that the two special representatives “will continue their conversations to ensure full and enduring restoration of peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols”.

Indian news agency IANS also reported Monday that both Indian and Chinese troops have retreated 2km each along the LAC in Galwan Valley Sunday.

The disengagement between Indian Army and the PLA happened as per the agreed terms in the Corps Commander’s meeting, and a 4km no-man zone has been created.

The two sides have also agreed, IANS said quoting unnamed sources, not to do any aerial surveillance of the retreated area, to rebuild trust which was badly damaged due to the June 15 bloodbath.

“As a result, neither side would really know what the other side is doing,” a military source said.

Indian Navy’s P-8I aircraft, generally used for maritime patrol and reconnaissance, had been pressed into service in Ladakh for high altitude surveillance. The P-8Is carried out similar surveillance operations during the 2017 India-China standoff in Doklam in Sikkim.

However, sources said PLA has removed tents and structures at PP14 and rearward movement of vehicles of the PLA were seen at general area Galwan, Hotsprings and Gogra.

The retreat on Sunday, sources said, is limited to these areas and not other contentious points along the LAC. Around 30,000 troops of Indian Army are in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Chinese troops along the LAC in Ladakh, following the additional deployment of three brigades since the violent face-off last month.

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