(TibetanReview.net, Oct16’22) – A month after carrying out their disengagement at the Gogra-Hot Springs (PP-15), India and China held their 25th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) on Oct 14. This was their first meeting after Jul 17 and ended in a stalemate but with a deal to hold the 17th round of military talks to resolve the remaining issue, reported India’s media that included the All-India Radio service Oct 15.
An official statement by India’s Ministry of External Affairs said: “The two sides reviewed the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of India-China border areas. Recalling the developments since the last meeting of WMCC in May 2022, they welcomed the disengagement in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs (PP-15) that was carried out in a phased, coordinated and verified manner between 8-12 Sep 2022…”
It further said the two sides agreed to continue discussions through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the remaining issues along the LAC at the earliest so as to create conditions for restoration of normalcy in bilateral relations.
The Indian delegation was led by Shilpak Ambule, Joint Secretary (East Asia) from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), while the Chinese side was led by Hong Liang, Director-General of the Boundary & Oceanic Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A statement from China’s Foreign Ministry similarly welcomed the recent disengagement, and said the two sides were “willing to take measures to further ease the border situation and promote the border situation from emergency response to normalised control.” It added that they agreed to hold the next military talks as soon as possible.
The two sides have been locked in a military standoff on the LAC since May 2020 and have arrayed more than 50,000 troops each in Ladakh sector. After more than two dozen rounds of diplomatic and military talks, they withdrew frontline troops from two banks of the Pangong Lake, Gogra and Hot Springs. However, they have been unable to reach an understanding on friction points such as Depsang and Demchok.
The Chinese side has insisted in recent months that the border standoff should be put in its “appropriate place” in the overall bilateral relationship, while the two sides take forward ties in areas such as trade and investment. But the Indian side has maintained that the overall relationship cannot be normalised till peace and tranquillity is restored along the LAC.
Full disengagement will have to be followed by de-escalation and de-induction of the troops from both sides still deployed in forward areas, an All-India Radio News reported posted on the newsonair.com website Oct 16 cited India as saying.