New Delhi: Ahead of the first Quad summit, India and China held another meeting of the foreign office-led diplomatic mechanism to discuss the border standoff on Friday. While India stated that there agreement that Pangong Tso lake disengagement was a good basis for resolution of the remaining friction points, China’s official read-out remained silent on this.
The Indian side to the 21st meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs was led by the Ministry of External Affairs additional secretary (East Asia). The Chinese delegation was headed by the foreign ministry’s director general of the Boundary & Oceanic Department.
The WMCC meeting takes place on the same day as the first summit-level meeting of the Quad countries on Thursday. China has been wary of the Quad grouping of India, Australia, the United States and Japan, viewing it as an attempt to prevent its rise in the Indo-Pacific.
According to the MEA press release, the two sides “reviewed the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector and had in-depth discussions on the remaining issues along the LAC in the Western Sector”.
India and China have completed the disengagement of frontline troops on the two shores of the Pangong Tso lake, but the two militaries are still in a standoff at three other points – Depsang Plans, Hot Springs and Ghogra.
“They agreed that the completion of the disengagement in North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake provided a good basis for the two sides to work towards early resolution of these remaining issues,” said the MEA press release.
The Chinese foreign ministry’s press communique, issued in Mandarin, mentioned that “other areas” were discussed, but did not state that any agreement had been reached for the basis of their resolution.
“The two sides positively evaluated the results of the disengagement of the first-line troops of the two countries in the Pangong Lake area, exchanged candid and in-depth views on promoting the resolution of other areas of the China-India border issue, and agreed to stabilise the situation on the China-India border and avoid the repetition of the situation on the ground in accordance with the five-point consensus reached at the Moscow meeting of the two foreign ministers and the spirit of the February 25 call,” said the Chinese readout, as per a rough machine translation.
The Indian press note also made a reference to the discussions between the foreign ministers. “They agreed that the agreement reached between the two Foreign Ministers in Moscow in September last year as also their recent phone conversation last month, should continue to guide the work of two sides,” said the MEA press release.
Further, India stated that both of them agreed to continue their dialogue “to reach a mutually acceptable solution for complete disengagement from all friction points at the earliest”.
“This would enable two sides to look at broader de-escalation of troops in the area and work towards restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas. They also agreed that in the interim two sides should continue to maintain stability at ground level and prevent any untoward incident,” said the MEA.
The Chinese foreign ministry concluded its readout by noting that the “two sides agreed to continue dialogue and communication through diplomatic and military channels, hold the next round of military-level talks as soon as possible, promote further de-escalation of the situation on the ground and jointly safeguard the hard-won peace and stability in the border areas”.