Armed forces responded appropriately to China's attempts to change status quo along LAC: Govt

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New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) The government on Wednesday said it will continue discussions with China to achieve the objective of disengagement of troops from all friction points and restoration of peace and tranquillity in eastern Ladakh at an early date.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said this in Lok Sabha while replying to a question on details of in-person and virtual meetings between India and China since the standoff began last year.

The minister's comments came on a day the Chinese defence ministry said in Beijing that Indian and Chinese troops started 'synchronised' disengagement at the south and north banks of Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh.

In his written reply, Muraleedharan said the Chinese military made several attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since April-May last year and Indian armed forces 'responded' to them 'appropriately'.

Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in eastern Ladakh for over nine months.

'Since April/May 2020 the Chinese side had made several attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the LAC in Western Sector. These attempts have been responded to appropriately by our armed forces,' Muraleedharan said in replying to a question.

'It has been made clear to the Chinese side that such unilateral attempts are unacceptable. These actions have seriously disturbed the peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western sector,' he said.

The government often refers to eastern Ladakh as western sector.

Muraleedharan said diplomatic and military engagements with the Chinese side have continued in order to ensure complete disengagement from all friction points and full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

He said six meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs (WMCC) and nine meetings of the senior commanders have been held so far.

'Government will continue discussions with the Chinese side to achieve the objective of disengagement from all friction points and restoration of peace and tranquility in the India-China Border Areas at an early date,' he said.

The Chinese defence ministry said the frontline troops of China and India at the south and north banks of the Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh started 'synchronised and organised' disengagement from Wednesday.

There was no official comment by either the Indian defence ministry or the Indian Army on the Chinese statement.

In responding to the question in Lok Sabha, Muraleedharan also referred to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on September 10 in Moscow.

'The two foreign ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,' he said.

Muraleedharan said the two foreign ministers also agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.

To a separate question, he said India received assistance from a few countries including Japan, the US, France, Germany and Israel in the form of medical equipment and grants-in-aid following the coronavirus pandemic. PTI MPB ZMN