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Dialogue is to peace, Rajnath tells Wei; MEA-level meet next

India and China have talked about bringing peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This even as both sides, in separate statements, have spoken about their troops being ready to defend their territorial integrity.

Heavily armed troops on either side have been locked in a fierce military standoff since May this year. China has, so far, stalled the disengagement process and several rounds of military talks have yielded nothing.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his counterpart General Wei Fenghe, State Councillor and Defence Minister of China, in Moscow last night. The meeting ended at 11.50 pm IST. The delegations of India and China were attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting. The Chinese had invited the Indian delegation for talks.

An Indian statement released on Saturday said: “The two sides should resolve the ongoing situation and outstanding issues in the border areas peacefully through a dialogue. The Chinese Defence Minister conveyed that the Chinese side too desired to resolve the issues peacefully.”

Rajnath Singh conveyed that the two sides should continue their discussions, including through diplomatic and military channels, to ensure a complete disengagement and de-escalation and full restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC at the earliest. Clearly, all eyes are now on a meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his counterpart Wang Yi, slated for next week. At the meeting yesterday, it was brought out that peace and tranquility along the LAC was essential for further development of bilateral relations and the two sides should not allow the differences to become disputes.

Rajnath “advised” the Chinese delegation that it was important that the Chinese side should work with the Indian side for complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas, including Pangong Lake, as well as de-escalation in border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols on the maintenance of peace in border areas.

He called for a strict respect to observe the LAC and not make attempts to unilaterally change the status quo. He further said the current situation should be handled responsibly and that neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters in the border areas. He also conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that “there should be no doubt about our determination to protect the India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.