India on Thursday stressed that the core issue in the ongoing military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh was the need to "strictly" follow various bilateral pacts and protocols in their entirety on maintenance of peace along the Line of Actual Control(LAC). The assertion by External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivasava came at a media briefing in response to a question on a report by a US commission that China had planned the Galwan Valley incident.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in its latest annual report to the US Congress that the Chinese government had planned the Galwan Valley incident in June, potentially including the possibility for fatalities. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed after valiantly fighting troops from the Chinese People's Liberation Army(PLA) in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15. China is yet to disclose the number of its casualties.
The violent clashes triggered massive escalation of tension between India and China. When asked about the American Congressional report at a media briefing, Spokesperson Srivasava referred to the press statement issued by India following the telephonic conversation between the foreign ministers of the two countries in the aftermath of the clashes.
"I would stress that the core issue remains that both sides need to strictly follow the various bilateral agreements and protocols in their entirety including the 1993 and 1996 agreement on maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the LAC," he said. The agreements mandated that there should not be amassing of troops, each side should strictly abide by and respect the LAC and should not take any unilateral action to alter it.
Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are currently deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero conditions as multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have not yielded concrete outcome to resolve the standoff. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials. The border standoff between the two sides erupted in early May. Asked when will the next round of military talks between the two sides take place, Srivastava did not give a direct reply but said the two sides continued to maintain communication.
"As we have conveyed earlier, the two sides continue to maintain communication through diplomatic and military channels with the objective of ensuring complete disengagement in all friction points along the LAC in the Western sector and full restoration of peace and tranquility," he said. "Both sides have agreed to have another round of Senior Commanders meeting at an appropriate time. As and when we have more information, we will share it with you," Srivastava said.
The eighth round of military talks had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points. The two armies had described the eighth round of talks as candid, in-depth and constructive.