S Jaishankar, China counterpart review disengagement at LAC
External affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to review the disengagement of troops of the two countries in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
This was the first formal contact between Jaishankar and Wang since they met on the margins of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Moscow on September 10 last year, and it came days after India and China pulled back frontline troops from strategic heights around Pangong Lake along with armoured vehicles and artillery.
“Spoke to State Councilor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi this afternoon. Discussed the implementation of our Moscow Agreement and reviewed the status of disengagement,” Jaishankar tweeted, without giving details.
There was no official word on the contact from the Chinese side.
The “Moscow Agreement” that Jaishankar referred to was a five-point agreement that the two sides had concluded during the meeting of the foreign ministers in the Russian capital. A joint statement issued after that meeting had said the two sides would be guided by the consensus of the leaders of India and China, including not allowing differences to become disputes.
Jaishankar and Wang had also agreed that border troops would “continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions”, and that the two sides would abide by all existing agreements and protocols on border management and “avoid any action that could escalate matters”.
The two sides further agreed to continue dialogue through the Special Representatives’ mechanism and through meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs. Once the situation eases, the two sides would work on new confidence-building measures for enhancing peace and tranquillity in border areas.
Asked about the situation on the LAC at a regular news briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: “Both sides view the smooth and successful completion of disengagement in the north and south bank [of Pangong Lake] as a significant first step as this forms a basis for resolution of remaining issues so as to achieve the eventual goal of complete disengagement in all friction areas.”
“The two sides have agreed to work towards a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues,” he said.
Within 48 hours of the completion of the disengagement at Pangong Lake, the 10th round of talks between senior military commanders of the two sides was held on February 20. Srivastava said the two sides had “candid and in-depth exchange of views on the remaining issues along the LAC in the western sector” at this meeting.
The meeting of the military commanders had focused on disengagement at other friction points such as Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang Plains though there were no immediate signs of a breakthrough.