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India and China 'Positively' Evaluate Outcome of 6th Round of Talks of Their Army Commanders: MEA

A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, on November 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo)

A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, on November 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo)

The focus of the talks was to de-escalate tensions, people familiar with the developments said, as the two sides discussed ways to implement the five-point agreement reached between their foreign ministers in Moscow on September 10.

India and China on Wednesday held a fresh round of diplomatic talks with a focus on implementing the five-point agreement reached between the two countries to resolve the nearly five-month-long border standoff in eastern Ladakh. The virtual talks were held under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs.

The focus of the talks was to de-escalate tensions, people familiar with the developments said, as the two sides discussed ways to implement the five-point agreement reached between their foreign ministers in Moscow on September 10. In Bejing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing that China and India are holding the 19th meeting of the WMCC on China-India Border Affairs.

The main topics discussed are how to implement the five-point consensus reached in Moscow by the two foreign ministers to resolve outstanding issues on the ground and to ease the situation along the border, he said. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi had held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) meet in the backdrop of a deteriorating situation in eastern Ladakh triggered by a fresh confrontation between the armies of the two countries.

After the virtual talks under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) said the two sides reviewed the current situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and "positively evaluated" the outcome of the sixth meeting of their senior commanders last week.

"They emphasised the need to implement the steps outlined in the joint press release issued after the last meeting of the senior commanders so as to avoid misunderstandings and to maintain stability on the ground. In this context, the need to strengthen communication, especially between the ground commanders, was emphasized by both sides," the MEA said in a statement.

Corps commanders of the two sides held a nearly 14-hour-long meeting on September 21 following which they announced a slew of decisions to de-escalate the tense situation. The decisions included to stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters.

On Wednesday's talks, the MEA also said the two sides reviewed the current situation along the LAC and had frank and detailed discussions on the developments since the last meeting of the WMCC on August 20. "They also noted that the agreement between the two Foreign Ministers should be sincerely implemented to ensure disengagement at all the friction points along the LAC," the MEA said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi had held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) meet in Moscow in the backdrop of a deteriorating situation in eastern Ladakh triggered by a fresh confrontation between the armies of the two countries.

At the meeting, the two sides reached a five-point agreement that 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 Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Wednesday talks took place amid a war of words between the two sides on perception of the LAC, the de-facto Sino-India border spanning a length of nearly 3,500 km.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson recently insisted that China abides by the LAC as proposed by then Premier Zhou Enlai to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in a letter dated November 7, 1959. In a sharp reaction, India on Tuesday categorically rejected China's "so-called unilaterally defined" LAC of 1959, and asked the neighbouring country to refrain from advancing an "untenable" interpretation of the de-facto border.

The Indian government also reminded China that its insistence there is only "one LAC" is contrary to the solemn commitments made by Beijing in previous bilateral agreements, and expected it will "sincerely" abide by them in their entirety. On the basis of the understanding reached between Jaishankar and Wang, the two sides held a nearly 14-hour-long Corps commander-level talks on September 21 following which they announced a slew of decisions to de-escalate the situation.

The decisions included to stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters. It was for the first time that the two armies announced specific measures to ease tensions in eastern Ladakh where the face-off began in early May.