India, China agree to resolve ‘outstanding’ issues ‘expeditiously’: MEA

New Delhi (NVI): India and China today held a fresh round of diplomatic level talks in the wake of border tensions in Ladakh along Line of Actual Control (LAC), and agreed to resolve the “outstanding issues” in an “expeditious manner” and in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

“The two sides were in agreement that restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas would be essential for the overall development of bilateral relations,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said during the weekly press briefing here.

He said the two sides had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the existing situation in the India-China border areas, at the 18th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) held today.

This was the fourth meeting of WMCC since tensions erupted in early May and saw an escalation after the violent face-off in Galwan Valley of Ladakh on June 15. At least 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives in the clashes with Chinese troops while China also suffered casualties but didn’t disclose.

“They reaffirmed that in accordance with the agreements reached between the two Foreign Ministers and the two Special Representatives (SRs), the two sides will continue to sincerely work towards complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector,” Srivastava said.

The MEA spokesman further said that the two sides also acknowledged the need to maintain close communication through both the diplomatic and military channels so as to ensure complete disengagement.

“In this regard, they also agreed to continue their ongoing engagements including through the meetings of the WMCC,” he added.

The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary (East Asia) from the Ministry of External Affairs, while the Director General of the Boundary & Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs led the Chinese delegation.

Earlier on August 14, MEA had said that re-deployment of troops at their regular posts along the LAC can be done only through “mutually agreed reciprocal actions”.

While addressing a media briefing, MEA spkesperson Srivastava had said that although some progress had been made towards disengagement of troops at disputed points along LAC in Ladakh, the complete normalisation of positioning of troops at the border is a “complex process” and “requires re-deployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC”.

“It is natural that this can be done only through mutually agreed reciprocal actions,” he added.

India and China remain engaged through both diplomatic and military channels to ensure complete disengagement along the India-China border areas, following the Galwan Valley incident.

-ARK