Jaishankar, Wang Yi review status of disengagement

Both sides agree disengagement on banks of Pangong Lake “a significant first step”

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to review the on-going disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

In a message on Twitter, Mr. Jaishankar said he “spoke to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi this afternoon” and “discussed the implementation of our Moscow Agreement and reviewed the status of disengagement”.

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The two Ministers had met in Moscow in September and agreed that the situation was “not in the interest of either side” and to continue dialogue and “quickly disengage”.

Working out the modalities, however, proved to be complicated and took several months. Both sides broadly agreed on a plan to disengage at the ninth round of military-level talks in January, which began to be implemented earlier this month.

On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs said the completion of disengagement on the north and the south banks of the Pangong Lake last week was “a significant first step” towards resolving the remaining issues.

“Both sides view the smooth and successful completion of disengagement in the north and south bank as a significant first step as this forms a basis for resolution of remaining issues to achieve the eventual goal of complete disengagement in all friction areas,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. “The two sides have agreed to work towards a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues.”

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He said as agreed by both sides, the 10th round of meetings between Corps Commanders was held on February 20, within 48 hours of the completion of disengagement on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake. He also said, in response to what he called “misleading” comments in the media, that “India has not conceded any territory as a result of this agreement”. “On the contrary, it has enforced observance and respect for LAC and it has prevented any unilateral change in the status quo,” Mr. Srivastava said.

On Wednesday, Army Chief Gen. Manoj Naravane said disengagement at the lake was “a win win” situation for both sides, but cautioned there was a long way to go towards full disengagement and thereafter, de-escalation.

“We still have a long way to go,” he said, after the first phase of disengagement. “We now have to move on to the stage of de-escalation. After that de-induction of troops which went to the higher reaches.”

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