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India and China resume diplomatic talks over Ladakh disengagement

India and China have resumed diplomatic dialogue on Friday, December 18, after a break of nearly 11 weeks to resolve the continuous standoff in the Ladakh sector.

A virtual meeting will take place with diplomats from both sides under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs (WMCC) where they would be discussing disengagement of troops, thousands of whom have dug in on either side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in sub-zero conditions.

The last WMCC meeting was held on September 30 – the 19th. The meeting addressed the overall system since the mechanism was set up in 2012 which had failed to take forward the negotiations focussed on troop disengagement. As a conclusion of the last virtual WMCC meets on September 30, both the Indian statement and a readout in Mandarin from China’s foreign ministry mentioned that both sides “positively evaluated” the outcome of the sixth military commanders’ meeting on September 21.

Confirming the Friday talks, diplomatic sources in Beijing said the major point of negotiation will be on troop disengagement. The latest round of WMCC talks will clash with a virtual address to be delivered by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, at an online event organized by the Mumbai-based Asia Society Indian Centre.

Wang is expected to give insights on the ongoing crisis in Sino-India bilateral ties, triggered by the eight-month-long military standoff.

During the break after the last meeting, the two sides have held military-level dialogues, which too failed to take the disengagement process forward.

India on Thursday had called for further discussion with China to reach a “mutually acceptable solution” on complete disengagement at all friction points on the LAC. “It is our expectation that further discussions will help both sides to achieve an agreement on a mutually acceptable solution for ensuring complete disengagement in all friction points along the LAC in the Western sector and full restoration of peace and tranquillity as early as possible,” Anurag Srivastava, external affairs ministry spokesperson, told a weekly news briefing.

As per the Indian Statement, “They emphasized the need to implement the steps outlined in the joint press release issued after the last meeting of the senior commanders so as to avoid misunderstandings and to maintain stability on the ground.”

The two sides last held a military-to-military talk on November 6, an indication that neither party is ready to accept the negotiations.

A joint statement issued at the end of the 8th round of the China-India Corps Commander level meeting, held in Chushul, had said the “…two sides had a candid, in-depth and constructive exchange of views on disengagement along the LAC in the Western Sector of China-India border areas.”

“Both sides agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, ensure their frontline troops to exercise restraint and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation,” the statement had added.