India on Thursday said that ensuring a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas in eastern Ladakh is the “immediate task", remarks that came ahead of another round of military talks with China on the border standoff. Though the date for the eighth round of military talks is yet to be firmed up, it is expected to take place by the first half of next week.
“The immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas," said the spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) Anurag Srivastava. He was replying to questions at a media briefing on the status of talks between India and China on the over five-month-long standoff along the Line of Actual Control(LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
The spokesperson said both sides are engaged in talks to peacefully resolve border issues. “As you are aware, India and China continue to have discussions through both diplomatic and military channels to peacefully resolve the issues along the LAC in India-China border areas," he said.
“This is in keeping with the agreement reached between the two foreign ministers during their meeting in Moscow on September 10," he added. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi held talks in Moscow on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) summit where they arrived at a five-point agreement to defuse the situation in eastern Ladakh.
The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC. At the media briefing, Srivastava also referred to the last round of diplomatic parleys between India and China on September 30 and the seventh round of military talks on October 12.
“The two sides have reiterated their desire to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible," he said. A joint press statement by the two armies after their seventh round of talks said that both sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement “as early as possible".
India has all along been maintaining that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the mountainous region. Following the sixth round of military talks, the two sides announced a slew of decisions including not to send more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters.