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India must move out of Galwan Valley: China

China’s statements, however, pointed to sharp differences on where the LAC lies in Galwan Valley. The valley begins from the confluence of the Galwan and Shyok rivers, and the LAC that both sides had been observing runs east of the confluence, in the valley. China, however, is demanding an Indian withdrawal from the entire valley and limiting India’s presence to the “Galwan estuary”, where it meets the Shyok. Wednesday’s statements from Beijing appeared to describe the LAC at the “estuary” of the river.

Claims untenable: MEA

The MEA said last week China’s claims over the entire valley were “exaggerated” and “untenable”.

At Wednesday’s talks, the MEA said both sides agreed to “sincerely implement the understanding on disengagement and de-escalation that was reached by the Senior Commanders” and that doing so “expeditiously” would “help ensure peace and tranquillity in border areas and the development of broader relationship between the two countries.”

The MFA, in a statement, said both sides would “actively cooperate with the armed forces of the two countries to implement the consensus from the two rounds of military leaders’ talks on June 6 and 22 , strengthen communication and coordination between military and diplomatic channels, and peacefully resolve relevant issues in border areas through bilateral dialogue and consultation.”

The talks were led by Naveen Srivastava. Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the MEA, and Hong Liang, Director General of the Department of Boundary and Oceanic Affairs of the MFA.

At the same time, the MFA and the Defence Ministry, in separate statements, accused India of breaking the agreement of June 6, and claimed India had committed to not patrolling in the valley or building facilities there. The Defence Ministry said India “should bear full responsibility for the incident that was solely and completely triggered by its breach of consensus and unilateral provocations” and “demanded the Indian side severely punish those who should be held accountable, strictly discipline its front line troops so as to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.”

MFA spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “It is the Indian side that went against the bilateral agreement. The Indian side at first agreed to withdraw personnel from Galwan Valley which it did, and it dismantled its facilities as requested by the Chinese side. During the first Commander meeting on June 6, the Indian side committed to no trespassing of the Galwan Valley for patrolling and for building. The two sides agreed to set up observatory posts at the two sides of the river estuary, but the Indian side went against this agreement and asked China to dismantle China’s posts, and also crossed the LAC,” which, he said, led to the clash.

India, however, said the clash was triggered by China violating the June 6 agreement and setting up a post on its side of the LAC. Indian officials said the LAC that both sides had been observing has been east of the confluence near Patrolling Point 14, where the clash occurred.

China’s Defence Ministry spokesperson, PLA Senior Colonel Wu Qian, repeated China’s claim that “it has sovereignty over the Galwan Valley region.” “Over the years, the Chinese border troops have been patrolling and guarding this region,” he said. “Since April this year, Indian border troops have unilaterally built facilities along the LAC in the Galwan Valley... In the early morning of May 6, the Indian border troops trespassed into China’s territory, built fortifications and barricades, and impeded the patrol of Chinese border troops, in an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo of border control and management”.

India, however, has stressed that its troops did not cross the LAC and the clash was triggered by China breaking the June 6 consensus.

( With inputs from Dinakar Peri )

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