Core issue in India-China LAC standoff is to ‘strictly follow’ bilateral border pacts: MEA

Responding to a question on a report by a US commission that China had planned the Galwan Valley incident, India on Thursday stressed that the core issue in the ongoing military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh was the need to “strictly” follow various bilateral pacts and protocols in their entirety on maintenance of peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The assertion by External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava came at a media briefing, a day after US Congressional Commission said that the Chinese government had planned the Galwan Valley incident in June, potentially including the possibility of fatalities.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a fierce clash with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15. Reports have indicated that the Chinese side too had suffered casualties but it is yet to disclose the number of its casualties.

The violent Galwan clash was the biggest military confrontation in over five decades between India and China and triggered massive escalation of the already volatile border standoff in the region.

When asked about the American Congressional report at a media briefing, MEA Spokesperson Srivastava referred to the press statement issued by India following the telephonic conversation between the foreign ministers of the two countries in the aftermath of the clashes.

“I would stress that the core issue remains that both sides need to strictly follow the various bilateral agreements and protocols in their entirety including the 1993 and 1996 agreement on maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the LAC,” news agency PTI quoted Srivastava as saying.

The agreements mandated that there should not be amassing of troops, each side should strictly abide by and respect the LAC and should not take any unilateral action to alter it.

Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army 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 concrete outcome to resolve the standoff. China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials. The border standoff between the two sides erupted in early May.

Asked when will the next round of military talks between the two sides take place, Srivastava did not give a direct reply but said the two sides continued to maintain communication.

“As we have conveyed earlier, the two sides continue to maintain communication through diplomatic and military channels with the objective of ensuring complete disengagement in all friction points along the LAC in the Western sector and full restoration of peace and tranquillity,” he said.

“Both sides have agreed to have another round of Senior Commanders meeting at an appropriate time. As and when we have more information, we will share it with you,” Srivastava said.

The eighth round of military talks had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points. The two armies had described the eighth round of talks as candid, in-depth and constructive.

(With inputs from PTI)

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