Respect LAC, do not make attempts to unilaterally change status quo; Rajnath tells Chinese counterpart

NEW DELHI, Sep 5: As the situation in eastern Ladakh remains tense, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has conveyed to his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe that China must strictly respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and not make attempts to unilaterally change its status quo.

In the first highest level face-to-face contact between the two sides after border tension erupted in eastern Ladakh in early May, Singh told Wei during their talks in Moscow on Friday that China must work with the Indian side for complete disengagement of troops at the earliest from all friction points including Pangong Lake.

Asserting that India is determined to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Singh also conveyed that China’s actions amassing a large number of troops, its aggressive behaviour and attempts to alter the status quo in Ladakh were in violation of bilateral pacts, according to an official statement released here on Saturday.

Singh conveyed to Wei that the current situation should be handled responsibly and that neither side take any further action that could either complicate or escalate matters, it said.

The statement said Singh advised it was important that the Chinese side strictly respect the LAC and should not make attempts to unilaterally change the status quo.

“The two ministers had frank and in-depth discussions about the developments in the India-China border areas as well as on India-China relations,” said the statement released by both the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Defence.

Singh conveyed that the two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquility along the LAC at the earliest, it said.

The statement said the Chinese Defence Minister also conveyed that China too desired to resolve the issues peacefully.

The talks in the Russian capital, lasting two hours and 20 minutes, took place days after tensions flared up again in eastern Ladakh after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake when the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the four-month-old border row.

Following the fresh confrontation, India occupied a number of strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong lake and strengthened its presence in Finger 2 and Finger 3 areas in the region. China has strongly objected to India’s move. However, India has maintained that the strategic heights are on its side of the LAC.

“The defence minister categorically conveyed India’s position on the developments along the LAC including in the Galwan valley in the Western Sector of the India-China Border areas in the last few months,” the statement said. (PTI)