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India, China Discuss LAC Disengagement

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NEW DELHI, March 28: Amid a lingering border row in eastern Ladakh, top diplomats of India and China held a fresh round of talks and both sides agreed to “maintain regular contact” through diplomatic and military channels, with no indication of any breakthrough.

Both sides had an in-depth exchange of views on how to achieve “complete disengagement” and resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control  during the 29th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

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The key meeting was held in Beijing on March 27, it said in a statement.

Joint Secretary (East Asia) from the MEA led the Indian delegation. The Chinese delegation was headed by Director General of the Boundary and Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the statement said.

“In the interim, both sides agreed to maintain regular contact through diplomatic and military channels and on the need to uphold peace and tranquillity on the ground in the border areas in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and protocols,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement on Thursday said, “Both sides positively evaluated the progress made in the management and control of the situation in the China-India border area, and had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the ideas of work for the next stage.”

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The two sides “agreed to focus on the relevant issues on the ground along the border, reach a solution acceptable to both sides as soon as possible, and promote the transition of the border situation into a normalised phase of control and management,” it said.

The 28th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs was held on November 30 last year.

Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, Hong Liang, and joint secretary of the East Asia Division of Ministry of External Affairs of India, Gourangalal Das, co-chaired the 29th meeting, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in the statement.

Representatives from the foreign affairs, defense, immigration and other departments of the two countries attended the meeting, it said.

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“Both sides agreed to continue to maintain communication through diplomatic and military channels, improve the mechanism for negotiation and consultation, and hold a new round of corps commander-level talks at an early date.

“The two sides agreed to strictly abide by the agreements and guiding principles of the relevant common understandings reached between the two sides, avoid flare-ups in the situation on the ground, and continue to consolidate the previous disengagement outcomes, in a bid to safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border area,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in the statement.

The eastern Ladakh border standoff erupted on May 5, 2020, following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake area.

Ties between the two countries nose-dived significantly following the clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

At an event in New Delhi, external affairs minister S Jaishankar on March 11 had said that India remains committed to finding a “fair and reasonable outcome” on this issue but one that is respectful of agreements and recognises the Line of Actual Control.

“I think it is in our common interest that we should not have that many forces on the Line of Actual Control. I think it is our common interest that we should observe agreements that we have signed. And, I believe that it is not just in common interest, I believe it is in China’s interest as well. This tension that we have seen for the last four years has not served either of us well,” he had said. (PTI)

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