India, China engaged at military, diplomatic levels to resolve border issue: MEA

India on Thursday said it was engaged with China at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the border standoff in eastern Ladakh, but at the same time asserted that the country is “firm” in its resolve to protect its sovereignty and national security.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India is committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control

and that Indian troops take a very responsible approach towards border management.

“The two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels,” he said at an online media briefing.

Srivastava’s comments came even as both Indian and Chinese troops continued to engage in a tense standoff for over three weeks in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.

“The Indian troops take a very responsible approach towards border management and strictly follow the procedures laid out in various bilateral agreements and protocols with China to resolve any issue that may arise in the border areas,” Srivastava said.

“India is committed to the objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity in the border areas with China and our armed forces scrupulously follow the consensus reached by our leaders and the guidance provided,” he said. In the media briefing, the MEA spokesperson referred to various bilateral agreements and protocols agreed to by India and China to resolve the border dispute.

Srivastava mentioned about the Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas, 1993 as well as referred to the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC which was finalised in 1996.

India on Trump’s offer to mediate

India on Wednesday said it was engaged with China to resolve the border issue, in a carefully crafted reaction seen as virtual rejection of US President Donald Trump’s offer to arbitrate between the two Asian giants in resolving their decades-old boundary dispute.

“We are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve it,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, replying to a volley of questions at an online media briefing.

The MEA spokesperson did not reply to questions like whether the US had approached India with the offer, whether New Delhi has communicated its response over it to Washington or whether the Trump administration has been briefed about the current standoff between Chinese and Indian soldiers in eastern Ladakh.

In the midst of this tense border standoff, Trump on Wednesday said he was “ready, willing and able to mediate” between the two countries.

“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute,” Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday morning.

Trump previously offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, a proposal which was rejected by New Delhi.

Army commanders deliberate on situation in Ladakh

The Indian Army rushed in additional troops and weaponry to eastern Ladakh as part of its strategy to fend off China’s aggressive military behaviour with “firmness”, even as top Army commanders deliberated on the delicate situation in the region for the second consecutive day on Thursday, official sources said.

They said military reinforcements, including troops, vehicles and equipment, were sent to shore up Indian presence in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.

The Army commanders extensively deliberated on the situation in eastern Ladakh on the opening day of a three-day conference on Wednesday as well.

The conference, which is being chaired by Army Chief Gen MM Naravane, also reviewed anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in certain areas in the North Eastern region, the sources said. The Indian Army will continue to maintain its aggressive posturing in all disputed areas in eastern Ladakh and will not back off till status quo is maintained, they said. The sources said the Indian Army has significantly bolstered its strength in eastern Ladakh and even brought in artillery guns.