When we have something to share, we will share: MEA on reported proposals on resolving Ladakh standoff
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.
NEW DELHI: Reacting to reports claiming that India and China had agreed to pull back from friction areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Ministry of Exteranl Affairs on Thursday saying the discussions are ongoing.
"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 November 6 in Chushul on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control(LAC).
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.
“The commander level talks held in Chusul on November 6 were candid, in-depth and constructive and both sides exchanged views on disengagement at all friction points along the LAC in the western sector of border. 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,” he said.
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.M M 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 September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) 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.
Region stability concerns
Russia on Thursday said any escalation in the border tension between India and China amid the global turbulence and unpredictability would further trigger regional instability in Eurasia, and the friction can be misused by other players in their geo-political purpose.
At an online media briefing, Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin said Russia is "naturally concerned" over the tensions between the two Asian powers, noting that it was "very important" for both the countries to engage more in "constructive dialogue".
Referring to both India and China being members of the SCO and BRICS groupings, Babushkin said respectful dialogue is a main tool when it comes to cooperation in the framework of multilateral platforms.
"It is clear that amid global turbulence and unpredictability, escalation between India and China would further affect regional instability in our common home Eurasia.
The escalation we are witnessing can be misused by other players in their geo-political purposes," he said.
"We feel it is very important to encourage both our friendly Asian countries to be more engaged in constructive dialogue. Recent news about their commitment to exercise restraint and continue communication through diplomatic and military channels to remove tensions are absolutely welcoming developments," he added.
India and China are locked in a bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh for over six months.
Both sides are now working on proposals on disengagement of troops from the high-altitude region.
The Eurasian region has also been witnessing turmoil in the last few months primarily due to rising cases of coronavirus and tense relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"Russia remains in a unique position since it has special strategic relations with both India and China and these relationships are independent in nature. We are naturally concerned with the current tensions between India and China. However, we believe that a peaceful solution is inevitable sooner rather than later," Babushkin said.
"Both are global and responsible neighbouring powers with huge economic and defence potential as well as civilisational wisdom," he added.
When asked whether the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the BRICS groups can play a role in defusing tensions between two of their member nations, the Russian diplomat said both the groupings have developed mechanisms for positive engagements "Certainly respectful dialogue is the main tool when it comes to cooperation in the framework of the SCO and BRICS.
Both associations have developed dozens of mechanisms of sector wise cooperation and let me assure you that their relevant interest is growing," he said.
The BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Asked about growing ties between India and the US, Babushkin said Russia does not see any problem in the relations, adding New Delhi does not provide any reason for doubt when it comes to multilateral and bilateral commitments.
"New Delhi is a global power with multi-faceted and wide and diversified national interests and we respect that. India does not provide any reason for doubt when it comes to multilateral and bilateral commitments," he said.
At the same time, the Russian Deputy Chief of Mission made a veiled reference to the "threat" by the US to India to not go ahead with mega defence deals.
"We know that there were attempts to pressure India and use unfair and illegal competition tools such as threats of sanctions and other restrictions," he said.
In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, notwithstanding a warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
Talking about regional cooperation, Babushkin also mentioned about the Russia-India-China trilateral grouping.
"Lets not forget about another very important trilateral mechanism, RIC, which will be chaired by India next year. We are confident that it is well designed to ensure a positive atmosphere and to expand its practical agenda," he said.
Gen reviews situation at U’khand border outposts
Amid continuing tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, Army Chief Gen M M Narvane on Thursday undertook an aerial survey of India's border outposts along the Indo-China border in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district.
The Army chief conducted an aerial recce of Rimkhim, Niti and Laptal border outposts (BOPs) in Chamoli district on Thursday, official sources said.
Gen Naravane, who began his Uttarakhand tour on Wednesday with a visit to Mana, the last Indian village on the Indo-China border, is understood to have arrived here to review the operational preparedness of the Army.
After a visit to Mana, the Army chief reached the brigade headquarters at Joshimath where he interacted with officials and stayed at night.
He began his aerial survey of the border outspots on Thursday morning before leaving for Nainital where he will stay for the night, the sources said.
Gen Naravane is likely to visit Pithoragarh on Friday before going to Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.
Though officials were tight-lipped about the Army chief's visit, he is understood to have come for a first-hand assessment of the situation on the Indo-China border in Uttarakhand and for boosting the morale of the defence personnel.
The 3,488 km-long India-China border stretches through Jammu and Kashmir (1,597 km), Himachal Pradesh (200 km), Uttarakhand (345 km), Sikkim (220 km) and Arunachal Pradesh (1,126 km).
China has allegedly made several incursions into India at Barahoti in Chamoli districts of Uttarakahnd a few years ago.
(With PTI Inputs)