India and China on Monday concluded two days of consultations on the situation along the disputed border, as a working mechanism for coordination on border affairs — set up last year — held its fourth meeting.
The consultations in the Chinese capital reviewed “recent developments” along the border “especially in the western sector,” a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
In April, Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a three-week-long stand-off at Depsang, Ladakh, along the western section of the disputed border. This has been followed, in recent weeks, by several reports of incursions by Chinese troops in the area.
Officials on both sides say there are differing perceptions of where the Line of Actual Control (LAC) runs in the area, with face-offs occurring when troops, which carry out patrols up to their respective claim-lines, meet. However, Indian officials have noticed, over the past few months, increased Chinese patrolling along several points in the western sector.
Following the Depsang stand-off — which was triggered by Chinese troops pitching a tent in a disputed area and subsequently cast a cloud over the May visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to New Delhi — India conveyed to the Chinese leader that bilateral ties, in any field, could not move forward unless both sides ensured a foundation of peace and stability along the border.
Monday’s statement reiterated that message, saying that the “two delegations agreed that peace and tranquillity on the border is the basis for the continued expansion of India-China relations.”
The statement added, “To this end, both sides discussed further measures to maintain stability on the border, building on existing understandings and arrangements.”
The two countries have, in recent months, been discussing a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, which would look to consolidate and enhance existing arrangements.
Officials expect the agreement to be signed during the scheduled visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to China later this month.
The Indian delegation, during the two days of consultations, included officials from the MEA, Defence and Home Ministries, and members of the Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
The talks were held by Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the MEA Gautam Bambawale, and the Director General of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs, Ouyang Yujing.
The Chinese side included officials from the Foreign and Defence Ministries.