India and China will be having the seventh meeting of the Senior Commanders “at the earliest”. In a parallel move, on the diplomatic side, the next round of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India China Border Affairs (WMCC) meeting will also be held “soon''.
Even as the two militaries prepare for the approaching winter in the trans Himalayan cold desert, the two countries are keeping the channels of communication—military and diplomatic level talks—open at every level. In the next few weeks, India will be hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) heads of government summit, as India takes over chairmanship of the multilateral grouping. This will require India to host Chinese president Xi Jinping, though, with the pandemic, it is still not decided whether the summit will be in person, or a virtual one.
Addressing his weekly media briefing, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that after the last Senior Commanders meeting held in Moldo on September 21, the two sides had issued a joint statement, for the first time after any Senior Commanders meeting. “As such, it reflects the stated commitment of both sides to disengage along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).'' He added that “disengagement is a complex process that requires redeployment of troops by each side towards their regular posts on their respective sides of the LAC. This would require mutually agreed reciprocal actions.''
The Senior Commanders meeting was held after a gap of nearly two months, during which hostilities on the border had increased. The meeting followed the bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Russia on the sidelines of the SCO foreign ministers' meet on September 10. The two leaders had, at that meeting, agreed that the two sides needed to continue the dialogue and quickly and comprehensively disengage in all the friction areas.
Srivastava said that the 6th Senior Commanders meeting gave them an opportunity “to have candid and in depth exchange of views on stabilising the situation along the LAC, stop sending more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground, and avoid taking any actions that may complicate the situation.'' This was the first time that there was a representative from the ministry, joint secretary Navin Srivastava, at the military talks.
The spokesperson emphasised that “the way ahead will be to refrain from making any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo, while the two sides continue their discussions to achieve complete disengagement in all friction areas and to ensure full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”