India-China conflict: Next WMCC meeting tomorrow; disengagement first phase complete
Representatives of India and China are set to hold talks on Friday regarding the disengagement process along the Indo-China border in Eastern Ladakh. The talks will be the first formal interaction at the diplomatic level since India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a crucial video call last Sunday. Here are more details.
On Friday, the next India-China meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination will be held, sources told Hindustan Times. At his weekly briefing on Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the WMCC meeting "is expected to take place soon." The WMCC is headed by MEA Joint Secretary (East Asia) Naveen Srivastava and Chinese Foreign Ministry Director-General Wu Jianghao.
The WMCC was set up in 2012 to address tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. The last meeting was held on June 24 where Srivastava and Wu agreed that both sides needed to quickly implement disengagement and de-escalation.
Tensions between India and China had escalated around two months ago when hundreds of soldiers engaged in a violent face-off on the intervening night of May 5 and 6 near Pangong Tso lake. The two sides were then locked in a bitter standoff at multiple locations until tensions escalated further on June 15 when the forces faced off again in Galwan Valley.
On the Indian side, 20 soldiers were martyred in the June 15 clash. China also confirmed that it had suffered casualties, however, it has not officially confirmed the toll yet. Reports in the Indian media pegged that China suffered over 40 casualties.
During talks on Sunday, Doval and Wang had agreed on an expeditious withdrawal of troops along the Indo-China border. After their conversation, both Indian and Chinese forces had initiated the disengagement process from friction points along the LAC. According to HT, the two are expected to touch base in two-three weeks to review the progress made on the ground.
The disengagement process started on Monday. Sources told ANI that the first phase of disengagement has been completed. Chinese troops have moved back from Finger 4 to Finger 5 in the Finger area, the sources said. Reportedly, the Chinese troops have withdrawn by kilometers in Galwan Valley, Hot Springs, and Patrolling Point-15. The Indian troops have also moved back.
The sources said, "The vacant spaces will be treated as temporary non-patrolling zones by India and China, and their troops won't come there." "The second round of disengagement will focus on talks about moving back to permanent locations as per discussions between NSA Doval and the special representative from China," they said, adding that Corps Commander-level talks will follow Friday's WMCC meeting.