In a first, the ambit of the Corps Commander-level meeting with the Chinese side has been widened to include a diplomat. Naveen Srivastava, Joint Secretary in the East Asia division of the Ministry of External Affairs, is the point person from the diplomatic side.
The move comes as Srivastava has been holding virtual meetings with the Chinese side under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination for Border affairs (WMCC). Four such meetings have taken place since the beginning of the crisis in eastern Ladakh.
The first such meeting took place on June 24 where the other side was led by Director General of the Department of Boundary & Oceanic Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The statement from the India side said, “The two sides discussed in detail the developments in the India-China border areas in particular the situation in Eastern Ladakh. The Indian side conveyed its concerns on the recent developments in Eastern Ladakh, including on the violent face off in Galwan Valley area on 15th June that had resulted in casualties. In this regard, it was emphasised that both sides should strictly respect and observe the line of actual control.”
A follow-up was done on July 10 wherein the statement by the India side said, “They agreed that it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understandings reached between Senior Commanders.”
The third one was on July 24 and the fourth one on August 20. It is significant to note that since the inception of the WMCC format in 2012, 14 meetings were held over eight years. This year, within a span of three months, four meetings have already been held.
As per Ministry of External affairs, WMCC is “an institutional mechanism for consultation and coordination for the maintenance of peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas, as well as to exchange views on strengthening communication and cooperation, including between their border security personnel.” The meetings are held at the joint-secretary level.
The current joint secretary in-charge is Naveen Srivastava. The East Asia division takes care of all matters relating to China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia and Republic of Korea.
Srivastava is a 1993-batch India Foreign Service Officer. He has been India’s Ambassador to Kingdom of Cambodia and was Consul General of India in Shanghai as well.
Srivastava was part of the delegation in Moscow when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers meeting on September 10. It was at this Moscow meeting that a 5-point consensus was arrived at and the sixth round of Corps Commanders meeting in Moldo is going to work on the details.