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India, China hold border mechanism talks

Indian and Chinese officials have held talks here to review measures to avoid standoffs between their troops along the disputed border amid allegations by the PLA that removal of a surveillance hut by Indian soldiers last month was a violation of consensus to maintain peace.

PTI| Updated: Oct 08, 2015, 18:07 PM IST

Beijing: Indian and Chinese officials have held talks here to review measures to avoid standoffs between their troops along the disputed border amid allegations by the PLA that removal of a surveillance hut by Indian soldiers last month was a violation of consensus to maintain peace.

The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) consisting of officials from the foreign ministries and militaries of both countries met recently to review its functioning.

The mechanism has become a crucial avenue since 2013 for both sides to address tensions arising from stand offs between the two militaries aggressively patrolling the areas claimed by both sides.

While Indian officials declined to comment on the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here today "we hope that through these consultations we can work out how to better safeguard the peace and tranquility in the border areas and implement the consensus reached by our leaders".

"We believe that the border area is peaceful and we mentioned on many occasions that peace and tranquility in the border area is important for bilateral relations and we hope that all sides can work together to maintain the situation and work for a final settlement of the border issue," she said.

Her reaction followed allegations by the Chinese military that the Indian Army's removal of a surveillance hut with cameras erected by People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh's Burtse region was "not consistent with the relevant agreement and spirit of the consensus of the two sides".

"We ask the Indian army to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the two governments and refrain from taking any unilateral actions which will effect the situation in the border areas and work together with the Chinese military to jointly maintain peace and stability in China-India border areas," Chinese defence spokesman, Wu Qian had said last month.

Since the 2013 face off at Depsang in Ladakh during which Chinese troops pitched tents ahead of the crucial visit of Premier Li Keqiang to India, few more such stand offs have taken place in Ladakh region.

A similar face off took place at Chumar in Ladakh during President Xi Jinping's visit to India in 2014. It was resolved after several weeks of talks.

The WMCC talks are also being held ahead of the annual anti-terrorism exercises between the two militaries in China's Kunming city from October 11 to 24 in which 144 troops from both sides will take part.

In the last round of WMCC talks held in New Delhi last year, both sides reached consensus on several additional confidence building measures and agreed to implement them at the earliest.

The measures include regular interaction between the army headquarters and field commands of the two sides, opening of additional border personnel meeting points and more telecommunication linkages between forward posts of the two sides at mutually agreed locations.

Since then, the two sides held sectoral commanders meetings at different places and exchanged greetings during their respective national days.