India and China are in the process of sorting out a recent incursion by Chinese troops who entered Indian territory in the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector in eastern Ladakh and went on to set up a tented post.

The two sides, under the aegis of the recently set up Mechanism on Coordination and Consultation on Border Affairs, are working the phones to guard against the incursion developing into a flash point in bilateral ties.

The Mechanism has had two meetings last year but one of the ways it was visualised to operate was not just face-to-face meetings but also speak over the phone with each other. This is exactly what the two sides are doing now, said Government sources.

This is not the first time that the two sides have spoken over the phone but that doesn’t mean there were incursions like this is in the past that made them hold telephonic conversations of this sort, they clarified.

Official sources in the Ministry of External Affairs acknowledge the problem of differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control in this area of eastern Ladakh but were confident about resolving the current incident through dialogue.

While taking the route of dialogue, India has beefed up its military presence in the area. It has also reactivated the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at DBO which sits on an old Silk Road tributary from Ladakh.

The DBO ALG used for replenishing troops was opened after the India-China war but closed a few years later following an earthquake. India reopened it along with a few other ALGs in the area such as Fukche and Nyoma to ensure supply lines are maintained in case of any eventuality.

India has been especially careful about not fanning the news about the incursion in view of an upcoming high level visit and observations made by new Chinese President Xi Jinping to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the border issue during their maiden meeting in Durban last month.

In particular, India is mindful of the gesture by new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who conveyed his intention to start a series of overseas visits with India and Mr. Xi telling Dr. Singh that ensuring the continuance of peace and tranquillity on the border would be one of three core pillars of China’s policy towards India. The other two are expanding economic engagements and stepping up convergence on global governance and security-related issues.

First reported by The Hindu, this proposal for an inter-ministerial joint mechanism was mooted by then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to India in December 2010. It was agreed upon by Dr. Singh and then Chinese President Hu Jintao when they met in Sanya on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in March 2011.

The mechanism was finalised last year at the conclusion of the 15th meeting of the Special Representatives (SR) on the boundary question between National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and then Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo.

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