India and China have agreed that the next round of military talks should be held soon for working towards an "early and complete" disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the diplomatic and military talks have helped both sides to enhance understanding of each other's positions on the issue.
Last week, India and China held another round of diplomatic talks under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs. In the virtual meeting, both sides agreed to continue work towards ensuring complete disengagement of troops in all friction points along the LAC in eastern at the "earliest".
"India and China continue to maintain communications through diplomatic and military channels. These discussions have helped both sides to enhance understanding of each other's positions," Srivastava said. He was replying to questions on the over seven-month border standoff.
"As you are aware, a meeting of the WMCC on India China border affairs took place on December 18 and the two sides have agreed that the ninth round of senior commanders meeting should be held at an early date so that both sides can work towards an early and complete disengagement of troops along the LAC in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols and fully restore peace and tranquillity," he said. The eighth and last round of military talks had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points.
Nearly 50,000 Indian Army troops 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.
Army Chief Gen MM Naranave on Wednesday visited various high-altitude forward areas in eastern Ladakh and reviewed India's overall military preparedness. Asked whether India cancelled all diplomatic events planned with China to celebrate the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Srivastava said the activities have not yet been launched. "This is the 70th year of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China. However, the activities that have been agreed upon have not yet been launched," he said.