India on Friday said it expects China to work with it through existing bilateral consultation mechanisms between their diplomats and military commanders to ensure early completion of the disengagement process in the remaining areas in eastern Ladakh to allow both sides to consider de-escalation of forces. The statement comes days after the armies of the two countries concluded withdrawal of troops and weapons from the north and south banks of the Pangong lake.
At a weekly media briefing here, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had a detailed discussion with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi last week and agreed to set up a hotline, details of which would be worked out through diplomatic channels. “…It is our expectation that the Chinese side will work with us both through the WMCC (Working Mechanism for Consultation and Cooperation on India-China border issues) and the senior commanders’ meetings to ensure that disengagement in the remaining areas is completed at the earliest,” Srivastava said.
“This would allow both sides to consider de-escalation of forces in eastern Ladakh as that alone will lead to the restoration of peace and tranquillity and provide conditions for the progress in our bilateral relationship,” he added. During his telephonic discussion, Jaishankar had emphasised that both sides must quickly resolve the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
At the 10th round of the senior commanders’ meeting last month, India is learnt to have insisted on a faster disengagement process in areas such as Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang to defuse tension in the region. Jaishankar had told Wang that once disengagement is completed at all friction points, then the two sides could also look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards restoration of peace and tranquillity.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies erupted on May 5 last year following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry. Subsequently, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a fierce hand-to-hand combat on June 15 in Galwan Valley, an incident that marked the most serious military conflicts between the two sides in over four decades. Eight months after the confrontation, China admitted that its four soldiers were killed in the fight.