In a development after three years, India and China engaged in face-to-face negotiations on the border. During the initial visit by a senior Indian official to China in over three years, both nations have conversed about potential plans to disengage from the two remaining tense areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to establish favourable conditions for the resumption of regular relations.
On Wednesday, Shilpak Ambule, the Joint Secretary (East Asia) at the Ministry of External Affairs, engaged in discussions with leading Chinese border officials and also held a meeting with the Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, Hua Chunying.
The 26th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was led by Mr. Ambule who headed the Indian delegation. This meeting was the first face-to-face interaction held since July 2019. Hong Liang, the Director General of the Boundary and Oceanic Affairs Department of the Foreign Ministry, led the Chinese delegation.
According to a statement released by the MEA, both sides reviewed the current state of affairs along the LAC and held productive discussions about disengagement proposals for the remaining areas. These discussions were conducted in an open and constructive manner and aimed at restoring peace and stability along the LAC in the Western Sector and paving the way for normal bilateral relations.
A statement issued by the Chinese side stated that both parties “reviewed the positive progress” made and the successful outcomes of disengagement in the Galwan Valley and four other tense areas.
Additionally, they exchanged views on the upcoming stage of talks. The statement further noted that both sides have agreed to proceed based on the consensus already achieved, expedite the settlement of issues pertaining to the western section of the Sino-Indian border, and reach a mutually acceptable solution as soon as possible. They also discussed other measures to alleviate tensions in border areas and restore normalcy in border management.
In light of these developments, both sides have decided to hold the 18th round of talks between senior military commanders at an early date, as the previous round was held on December 20, 2022.