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India-China to resolve border tensions as per bilateral agreements: MEA on LAC standoff

Written by Krishn Kaushik
| New Delhi |

Updated: June 7, 2020 10:32:37 am

Satellite images from May 27 showing Chinese tents on the north bank of Pangong Tso. Planet Labs via Reuters

A day after Indian and Chinese army commanders held a meeting to resolve the tense situation along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Sunday said that both the sides have agreed to resolve the border issues in accordance with various bilateral agreements.

The statement from the MEA further noted that peace and tranquility in the India-China border regions are essential for the overall development of bilateral relations. It further noted that the meeting was held in a positive atmosphere and hinted that it could first in the series of meeting, as it stated that the dialogue will continue at military and diplomatic levels.

The disputed boundary between India and China, also known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is divided into three sectors: western, middle and eastern. The countries disagree on the exact location of the LAC in various areas, so much so that India claims that the LAC is 3,488 km long while the Chinese believe it to be around 2,000 km long.

READ | Express interview: ‘If LAC not marked soon, build-up like on LoC likely,’ says ex-Army chief

The statement also said that both sides will continue the engagement.

“Both sides also noted that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and agreed that an early resolution would contribute to the further development of the relationship. Accordingly, the two sides will continue the military and diplomatic engagements to resolve the situation and to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas,” the statement by MEA read.

The Defence Ministry and the Army have remained quiet about the crucial Saturday meeting. Beijing has also not said anything about the meeting yet.

Satellite images show that Chinese troops have moved in great numbers close to their perception line – which India considers as its territory – and undertaken fresh deployment and constructions.

Explained | Six years ago, how a standoff in Ladakh ended after discussion

XIV Corps Commander Lt General Harinder Singh led the Indian delegation to the Chinese border meeting point at Moldo near Chushul. The Chinese army team was led by Maj General Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military District, which is responsible for the border with Ladakh.

Ahead of the Saturday meeting of the army commanders, Indian and Chinese ambassadors joined a video call between diplomats of their border working mechanism to underline that “the two sides should handle their differences through peaceful discussion” and “not allow them to become disputes”.

Officials in Delhi had cautioned that the meeting, first at such a senior level of army leadership on both was unlikely to resolve the situation. India wants China to restore status quo ante on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which means that going back to the positions before China diverted its forces from a military exercise to the border with India.

Since the standoff began on May 5, Indian troops have not been allowed to go beyond Finger 4 on north bank of Pangong Tso, compared to earlier when Indian patrols could go 8 kilometers further till Finger 8, which is the LAC according to India. India also wants a mutually agreed progressive reduction of heavy military equipment, such as artillery guns and tanks, from the rear areas of both sides.

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