India and China, on Friday, held a fresh round of online diplomatic talks under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs in the wake of China's reluctance to carry on with the disengagement process in the Ladakh region. The biggest takeaway from the talks was the consensus on having more meetings, both at the military and diplomatic levels, including more WMCC talks.

There have been several meetings between the two countries at the military and diplomatic levels. There was also a meeting between Ajit Doval, India's National Security Advisor, and Wang Yi, China's foreign minister.

In fact, another meeting of the senior commanders is likely to be held soon to “work out further steps to ensure expeditiously complete disengagement and de-escalation and restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.'' There have already been four rounds of military talks at the senior commanders level since the Galwan Valley incident.

According to a statement released by the ministry of external affairs (MEA), the two sides reviewed the situation along the India-China border areas and the ongoing disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector. “They agreed that early and complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and de-escalation from India-China border areas in accordance with bilateral agreement and protocols and full restoration of peace and tranquillity was essential for smooth overall development of bilateral relations,'' the statement said, adding that it was in accordance with the agreement reached between the Sino-India special representatives (SRs) during their telephonic conversation on July 5. “They agreed in this regard that it was necessary for both sides to sincerely implement the understanding reached between senior commanders in their meetings till date.”

The WMCC was instituted in 2012, and is held at the level of joint secretaries. This was the 17th WMCC talk, with Naveen Srivastava, joint secretary, East Asia, in the MEA, representing India, and Hong Liang, director general of the boundary and oceanic department of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs, representing China.

According to the Chinese statement, the two sides had a “candid and in-depth exchange of views on the recent China-India border situation and fully affirmed the positive progress made by the front line border defence forces of the two countries to disengage and ease the situation on the ground.'' The Chinese statement, too, emphasised that the two sides will maintain bilateral military and diplomatic dialogues and consultations in accordance to the consensus reached at the level of foreign ministers and SRs and added that the two sides would “properly handle remaining issues on the ground, and promote further cooling of the border situation.”

Reports, however, say China has stalled the disengagement process, and has not moved back from the Hot Springs and Gogra regions. They have also not withdrawn from Finger 5 at Pangog Tso to their permanent position at Sirijap. On Thursday, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said India expected sincerity from China with regard to complete disengagement and de-escalation in the border areas at the earliest.