India

For total disengagement, India wants military commanders’ meet with China at ‘early date’

India on Thursday again called for the holding of the next meeting of Indian and Chinese military commanders at an “early date” so that the two sides can work towards the complete disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The two sides have been unable to make a breakthrough in the nearly eight-month standoff in Ladakh sector of the LAC despite several rounds of diplomatic and military talks, though external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said these discussions had resulted in better understanding of each other’s positions.

He said a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs was held on December 18 and the two sides had agreed the next or ninth round of talks between senior military commanders “should be held at an early date so that both sides can work towards an early and complete disengagement of troops along the LAC”.

The disengagement should be in line with existing bilateral agreements and protocols and “fully restore peace and tranquillity”, Srivastava said. He added that India and China continue to maintain communications through diplomatic and military channels.

Tens of thousands of troops from both countries have dug in for the winter at key friction points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh after the two sides were unable to agree on modalities for disengagement and de-escalation.

On Wednesday, Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane visited forward areas in eastern Ladakh, including sites on the south bank of Pangong Lake where Indian troops have occupied strategic heights, and reviewed the prepared of forces.

Among the areas visited by Naravane was Rechin La, where Indian troops occupied strategic heights during August 29-30 to pre-empt moves by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to unilaterally change the status quo along the LAC.

Last week, defence minister Rajnath Singh said India has the strength for an appropriate response to any transgression or unilateral action on the borders but believes in finding a peaceful solution to conflicts.

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