India and China agreed to de-escalate renewed border tensions and take steps to restore "peace and tranquility" at a meeting of foreign ministers in Moscow on Thursday. The two nations reached a five-point consensus and were in consonance that the current border situation is not in their interests and that troops from both sides should quickly disengage and ease tensions, said a joint statement.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers' meeting last evening. India highlighted its "strong concern at the massing of Chinese troops with equipment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)", the de facto border between the two countries, sources say. "The provocative behavior of Chinese frontline troops at numerous incidents of friction along the LAC also showed disregard for bilateral agreements and protocols," Beijing was told.
"The presence of such large concentration of troops was not in accordance with the 1993 and 1996 agreements and created flash points along the LAC. The Chinese side has not provided a credible explanation for this deployment," the Foreign Minister told China at the meeting that lasted for nearly two hours.
The immediate task, "to prevent any untoward incident in the future", is "to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas," India told China, sources said.
According to China, Wang told Mr Jaishankar that the “imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides”. He also said it was important to move back all personnel and equipment that have trespassed. “The frontier troops must quickly disengage so that the situation may de-escalate,” China said in its statement.
The meeting took place amid a fresh stand-off at the southern bank of Pangong Tso after Chinese soldiers armed with spears and rifles tried to approach Indian forward posts on Monday, allegedly to try and force a medieval-style fight similar to the June 14 clash at Galwan Valley, in which 20 Indian soldiers died for the country. In the latest confrontation, shots were fired for the first time along the LAC in 45 years. Both sides accused each other of firing in the air.
According to Beijing, Wang noted that it was “normal for India and China to have differences as two neighbouring major countries”. But it was important to put the differences in a proper context.
India-China relations have “once again come to a crossroads”, Wang said. “As two large developing countries emerging rapidly, what China and India need right now is cooperation, not confrontation; and mutual trust, not suspicion. Whenever the situation gets difficult, it is all the more important to ensure the stability of the overall relationship and preserve mutual trust,” said the China statement.
Wang said he backed enhanced dialogue between troops to resolve “specific issues”.
The Chinese statement quoted India as saying it was prepared to work with China to ease tensions on the border through dialogue and negotiation and to restore and maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.