As Galwan anniversary approaches, MEA says disengagement along LAC ‘remains unfinished’

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi (file photo) | Twitter/@ANI

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New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs Thursday said the disengagement process between Indian and Chinese troops is still unfinished, almost a year after clashes at the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh claimed the lives of 20 Indian personnel.

“The process of disengagement remains unfinished. The two sides have agreed that in the interim, they would maintain stability on the ground and avoid any new incidents,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, said at a media briefing Thursday. 

“It is our expectation therefore that neither side should do anything that is not in keeping with these understandings,” he added.  

Bagchi further said that “early completion of disengagement in the remaining areas could lead to de-escalation of forces in Eastern Ladakh, which would hopefully lead to full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas and enable overall progress in the bilateral relationship”. 

The first phase of the disengagement process took place in February this year when both sides made a swift and complete disengagement in the Pangong Tso area in Ladakh even as they vowed to undertake a phased disengagement.

India and China have been in a bitter border standoff since April 2020. On 15 June 2020, troops on both sides clashed violently, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed. While China initially did not admit to losing personnel that night, a PLA Daily in February this year stated that it lost four soldiers and officers. 

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The disengagement process

After the Galwan clash, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi have spoken several times over phone while meeting in-person in Moscow in 2020 for the Russian-India-China (RIC) dialogue and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to chalk out a plan for disengagement and de-escalation. 

Both Jaishankar and Wang had agreed to a five-point action plan in order to calm tensions and reset the bilateral ties. 

During his recent visit to the US, Jaishankar had also discussed the India-China border situation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

Last month, Army Chief General M.M. Naravane had said there will be no de-escalation without complete disengagement at all friction points in Eastern Ladakh. He also said that the Indian Army was prepared for all contingencies in the region. 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

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