India, China continue to maintain close communication: MEA on Ladakh standoff
NEW DELHI :India and China continue to maintain close communication through diplomatic and military channels with the objective of ensuring complete disengagement at all friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) said on Thursday.The MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the two sides have agreed to hold the next round of military talks and are in constant communication in this regard."India and China continue to maintain close 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 for full restoration of peace and tranquillity," he told a media briefing.Srivastava was responding to a question on the status of talks between the two countries on the military face-off in eastern Ladakh.The troops of the Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army(PLA) are locked in a standoff for over eight months.Last month, India and China held another round of diplomatic talks under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs."As you are aware, the latest round of WMCC was held on December 18. The two sides have agreed to hold a next round of senior commanders meeting, and are in constant communication through diplomatic and military channels in this regard," Srivastava said.The eighth and last round of military talks between the two sides took place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points.Army chief Gen MM Naravane on Tuesday hoped for an amicable resolution of the standoff through talks based on "mutual and equal security".The Chief of Army Staff at the same time asserted that Indian troops are fully prepared to deal with any eventuality along the LAC and will hold their ground as long as it takes to achieve the "national goals and objectives."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 had 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.This round was held with a specific agenda of exploring ways to implement a five-point agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi 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.