India, China reach consensus to disengage troops

NEW DELHI, Sep 11: India and China have reached a five-point consensus to resolve the four-month-long military standoff in eastern Ladakh, agreeing to “quickly disengage” troops, avoid action that could escalate tensions, and take steps to restore peace and tranquillity along the line of actual control (LAC).

The agreement in which the two countries said the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side was finalized during the “frank and constructive” talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday evening, on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meet.

The consensus during the talks that lasted two-and-a-half-hours came days after a fresh confrontation between the armies of the two countries on Monday in eastern Ladakh further escalating the standoff that erupted in May and triggering a massive military buildup by both sides in almost all friction points along the LAC, the de facto border between the two countries.

Government sources said the five-point agreement will guide the approach of the two countries in tackling the current border situation.

“The two foreign ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” said a joint press statement issued by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) in the early hours of Friday.

The five-point agreement has not mentioned any timeline for disengagement and restoration of peace and tranquillity.

It said Jaishankar and Yi agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.

Significantly, the statement said the ministers agreed that as the situation eases, the two sides should expedite work to conclude “new confidence building measures” to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

At the talks, the Indian delegation highlighted its strong concern over amassing of troops and military equipment by China along the LAC, besides referring to “provocative behaviour” by Chinese army personnel at numerous incidents of friction, government sources said.

They said the Chinese side could not provide a credible explanation for the troops buildup.

The meeting between Jaishankar and Yi was the second highest political contact between the two countries in a week. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart, Gen Wei Fenghe had also met in Moscow on 4 September on the sidelines of another SCO meet. (PTI)