NEW DELHI: Asserting that it was necessary to complete the process of disengagement in eastern Ladakh “at the earliest”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday conveyed to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi the need for “full and sincere” implementation of an agreement on restoration of peace and tranquility in the region.
The issue figured during a phone conversation that was initiated by Wang to convey China’s sympathies to India on the COVID-19 situation.
Also on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his “sincere sympathies” in a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the pandemic situation in India and offered to provide support and help to deal with the current surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.
After his conversation with Wang, Jaishankar tweeted “also discussed the issue of full and sincere implementation of the Moscow Agreement of complete disengagement at all friction points along the LAC and full restoration of peace and tranquility in Eastern Ladakh. Agreed to continue discussions in this respect.”
The Ministry of External Affairs said the two ministers discussed the outstanding issues related to disengagement from all friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
“The External Affairs Minister conveyed that while the process of disengagement had commenced earlier this year, it remained unfinished. He emphasized that it was necessary that this process be completed at the earliest,” it said in a statement.
“Full restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas would enable progress in the bilateral relationship. The two Ministers agreed to continue further dialogue at the official level on this matter,” the MEA said.
India and China reached a five-point agreement to resolve the eastern Ladakh border row during talks between Jaishankar and Wang at a meeting in Moscow on September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet.
The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC India and China were locked in military standoff at multiple friction points in eastern Ladakh since early May last year.
The two sides completed withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong lake in February following a series of military and diplomatic talks.
Both the militaries are now engaged in talks to extend the disengagement process to the remaining friction points.
There was no visible forward movement in disengagement of troops in the remaining friction points as the Chinese side did not show flexibility in their approach on it at the 11th round of military talks with the Indian Army on April 9.
There were also reports of China further strengthening its positions in some of the friction points.
About his talks with Wang, the external affairs minister said he also highlighted the importance of supply chains and openness to air flights in these circumstances.
“Welcomed his assurances in that regard, as also more openness to Indian chartered flights. Discussed the international cooperation aspects of the public health response to this difficult situation,” he said.
There were reports of difficulties being faced by some US firms in sending medical shipments to India from China.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Thursday said there was an impact on some of the supplies following suspensions flights by Sichuan Airlines.