India and China on Friday decided to follow through with steps for “complete disengagement” of troops in eastern Ladakh for “full restoration” of peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in a fresh round of diplomatic talks to scale down tensions along the de facto border.
The talks were held under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), the Ministry of External Affairs said, that has been trying to defuse tensions following a clash between the two countries last month in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
It said the two sides reaffirmed to ensure complete disengagement of the troops along the Line of Actual Control for “full restoration” of peace and tranquility in the border areas in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols.
“They also agreed that for the overall development of bilateral relations it was essential to maintain enduring peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Indian delegation at the online talks was led by the Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs while the Chinese side was headed by the Director General of the Boundary and Oceanic Department in China’s foreign ministry.
“They reviewed the situation in the India-China border areas including the progress made in ongoing disengagement process along the LAC in the Western Sector,” the Ministry of External Affairs said.
It said both sides agreed that it was necessary to sincerely implement the understandings reached between senior commanders.
The Indian and Chinese armies were locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last eight weeks. The tension peaked in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. China has yet to confirm whether it suffered casualties.
The Indian deaths are the highest along the border in more than five decades, a dramatic escalation that stunned the country, stoking popular anger against China, and led to weeks of talks between senior military officials on how to ease tensions.
In the last five days, Chinese military has withdrawn troops from three friction points in line with a disengagement understanding with Indian Army, government sources have said.
Both sides have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks in the last few weeks to ease tension in the region.
India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Wang Yi, one of China’s top diplomats, had “a frank and in-depth exchange of views” on Sunday regarding the border, according to briefing notes by both countries released on Monday.
Both sides said they had agreed to a significant disengagement of troops. India’s note also said both sides had agreed to respect the existing Line of Actual Control (LAC) reflecting positions along the contested section of border. This reference was not included in Beijing’s note on the meeting.