India and China on Tuesday agreed to hold the 16th round of military-level talks soon to resolve the stand-off in Eastern Ladakh where militaries of the two countries are facing each other for over two years now.
The two sides agreed to hold the senior commanders' meeting at an early date to achieve the objective of complete disengagement from all friction points along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector in accordance with the existing bilateral agreements and protocols, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement.
The Eastern Ladakh region is officially referred to as Western Sector in military terms as it's in the western half of the overall India-China border.
The MEA statement was issued following the 24th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), in which delegations from the two countries reviewed the situation in Eastern Ladakh and exchanged views on the current situation.
"They agreed that as instructed by the two foreign ministers, both sides should continue the discussions through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the remaining issues along the LAC at the earliest to create conditions for the restoration of normalcy in bilateral relations," said the MEA.
The Chinese said in a statement the two sides had "candid and in-depth exchange of views" on the current situation and that it was agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders and foreign ministers of the two countries to further ease the tension and jointly maintain peace and stability in the border areas.
It said the two sides agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through diplomatic and military channels, hold the 16th round of military director-level talks as soon as possible, and resolve the remaining issues in the western section of the boundary under the "principle of mutual and equal security".
The talks so far have only led to disengagement at of troops at Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso, and Gogra-Hot Springs area. There are still friction areas and around 60,000 troops of both sides along with advanced weaponry remain deployed in the region. With complete disengage still to be done, deescalation — the overall scaling down of deployment — is still far.
Areas where the understanding is yet to reached are Patrol Point-15 near Kongka La, Depsang Bulge in Daulet Beg Oldi sector, and Charding Nullah Junction (CNJ) in Demchok sector, as per a report in Hindustan Times.
Indian and Chinese troops have clashed multiple times since the stand-off began in early 2020, with the skirmishes at Galwan Valley in June 2020 being the worst in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese personnel were killed.
(With PTI inputs)