The Galwan Valley area saw fierce clashed between Indian and Chinese troops last month

by Indrani Bagchi

NEW DELHI: On the eve of the next virtual meeting of Indian and Chinese officials and in the wake of the ongoing disengagement of forces, the foreign ministry on Thursday reiterated that the Chinese claim to the Galwan Valley area was exaggerated and untenable and that the Line of Actual Control (LAC) must be strictly respected.

Briefing journalists, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said national security adviser Ajit Doval in his conversation with Chinese foreign minister and state councillor Wang Yi on July 5 had said that “Indian troops had always taken a very responsible approach towards border management and at the same time, our forces were deeply committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and security”.

The special representatives (SRs), Srivastava said, had agreed “that peace and tranquillity in border areas was essential for overall development of bilateral ties”.

Calling for restoration of peace and tranquillity on the LAC, the spokesperson said, “One of the key provisions of these bilateral agreements is the commitment that the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the LAC. The two SRs have also agreed that the two sides should work together to avoid any incident in the future that could disturb peace and tranquillity in border areas.”

The MEA said diplomatic and military officials of both sides would continue to meet to take forward the process of “disengagement and de-escalation” as agreed to by the SRs. The government added that there was some “inaccurate and uninformed” comments about the disengagement process and its implications. The comments seem in the context of suggestions that India will give up its patrolling routes.

Army sources have said that buffer zones being created at friction points are temporary measures. “Let me remind you that in the last few weeks, we have made several statements spelling out categorically the position of the government on different aspects of the current situation in the western sector of India-China border areas,” Srivastava said.

The Indian government clearly expects that neither side should take any unilateral action to alter the LAC.