New Delhi/Beijing, Sep 11 (PTI) India and China have reached a five-point consensus to resolve the four-month-long military standoff in eastern Ladakh agreeing to “quickly disengage” troops, avoid any action that could escalate tensions and take steps to restore peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The agreement in which the two countries said the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side was finalised during the “frank and constructive” talks between External Affairs Minister S.Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday evening. The talks on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet lasted two-and-a-half-hours.
The consensus came days after a fresh confrontation between the armies of the two countries in eastern Ladakh on Monday that further escalated the standoff which erupted in May and triggered a massive military build up by both sides in almost all friction points along the LAC, the de-facto border between the two countries.
Indian government sources said the five-point agreement will guide the approach of the two countries in tackling the current border situation which has remained volatile and tense.
“The two foreign ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” said a joint press statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) in the early hours of Friday.
However, there is no mention of any timeline in the statement for disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquillity. India has been consistently maintaining that China should restore status quo ante of April in eastern Ladakh.
The joint statement said Jaishankar and Wang agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
Significantly, the statement said the ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude “new confidence building measures” to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
At the talks, the Indian delegation highlighted its strong concern over massing of troops and military equipment by China along the LAC besides referring to “provocative behaviour” by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) personnel at numerous incidents of friction, Indian government sources said.
They said the Chinese side could not provide a credible explanation for the troops buildup.
The Indian side insisted that the immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas and that it is necessary to prevent any untoward incident in the future, the sources said.
Jaishankar also told Wang that maintenance of peace and tranquillity on the border areas was essential to the forward development of ties, the sources added.
He conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that the recent incidents in eastern Ladakh, however, inevitably impacted the development of the bilateral relationship.
The sources said the Indian side clearly conveyed during the talks that it expected full adherence to all agreements on management of border areas and would not countenance any attempt to change the status quo unilaterally.
“It was also emphasized that the Indian troops had scrupulously followed all agreements and protocols pertaining to the management of the border areas,” said a source.
The joint statement also said Jaishankar and Wang agreed that both sides should take guidance from the series of consensus reached between leaders of the two countries on developing India-China relations, including not allowing differences to become disputes.
It was clear that the reference was to the broad decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the talks following the Doklam episode of 2017.
“The two sides also agreed to continue to have dialogue and communication through the Special Representative mechanism on the India-China boundary question,” the joint statement said.