Foreign Ministry Tight-Lipped On Reported Proposal To Resolve Ladakh Border Standoff
The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said India and China have agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels to resolve the Ladakh standoff even as it refrained from commenting on reports that the two sides are working on a plan to pull back troops and weapons from the border friction points.
"When we have something to share, we will share. Discussions are ongoing," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said replying to a volley of questions on whether India and China are working on specific proposals to resolve the over six-month-long row in eastern Ladakh.
Government sources on Wednesday said India and China have broadly agreed on a three-step process on disengagement of troops and withdrawal of weaponry from all major friction points in a time-bound manner to ease the standoff.
They had said the proposals were extensively discussed during the eighth round of high-level military talks between the Indian and Chinese armies on Nov. 6 in Chushul on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control.
In his reply, Srivastava also referred to the joint press statement issued by both the Indian and Chinese armies following the last round of military talks.
"The talks were candid, in-depth and constructive and both sides exchanged views on disengagement at all friction points along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector of India-China border areas," he said.
"India and China have agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and, taking forward the discussions at this meeting of the senior commanders, push for the settlement of other outstanding issues. They have also agreed to have another round of meeting soon," Srivastava said.
The ninth round of military talks is likely to take place in the next few days.
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 any concrete outcome to resolve the standoff.
China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials. The standoff between the two sides erupted in early May.
Army chief Gen. MM Naravane on Tuesday said he was hopeful that the Indian and Chinese armies will be able to reach an agreement on disengagement and de-escalation of tension in eastern Ladakh.
India has all along been maintaining that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the mountainous region.
Following the sixth round of military talks, the two sides announced a slew of decisions including not to send more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters.
The sixth round of talks took place days after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi reached a five-point agreement to resolve the row at a meeting in Moscow on Sept. 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation conclave.
The pact 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 LAC.