Reacting to China’s statement that troops had “disengaged in most localities” in eastern Ladakh, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said even though some progress had been made, the disengagement process had not been completed yet.
“Some progress has been made, but disengagement process not yet been completed. We expect that Chinese side will sincerely work with us for complete disengagement and de-escalation,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
The MEA’s reactions comes hours after Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong said border troops of both countries “have disengaged in most localities” and China was not a strategic threat to India.
“Border troops have disengaged in most localities, situation on ground is de-escalating and temperature is coming down. China is committed to peaceful development and is not a strategic threat to India,” Weidong said.
He further said that both sides should properly handle differences to bring bilateral relations back to normal track. “Both sides should grasp fundamental interests of two countries and their peoples, stick to friendly cooperation,” he said.
The remarks from both sides come ahead of the fifth round of talks, likely later this week, between Corps Commanders of the two armies.
Chinese troops have so far been reluctant to step back further from Pangong Tso and Patrolling Point 17A at Gogra, two of four friction points along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. Sources had earlier said that around 50 troops each on both sides are still within a kilometre of each other at this location.
At PP 14 (Galwan Valley) and PP 15 (Hot Springs), the two other friction points, disengagement has already taken place.
In Pangong Tso, Chinese troops had come up to Finger 4 on the north bank, 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC. As part of the disengagement process, the Chinese vacated the Finger 4 base area and headed towards Finger 5. But they still occupy positions on the ridgeline at Finger 4.
Last week, after a virtual meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, New Delhi said both sides agreed on “early and complete disengagement”.
The military standoff began early May after Chinese and Indian troops came to blows on the north bank of the lake. On June 15, both sides engaged in a violent face-off and 20 Indian Army personnel were killed.